Wimbledon RFC’s coach James Ogilvy-Bull was left cursing the changing league schedule after a shock 27-13 defeat to Hove effectively ended any hope of promotion.
After the original match was postponed due to the weather, the Dons were forced to field a weakened side at the London Division One minnows, with 12 of the starting XV from the previous week unavailable.
Bull said: “Unfortunately during the incredibly busy league season, when the boys see a weekend off on the schedule they take the chance to make plans, especially when England happen to be playing Ireland at Twickenham.
“Those who came in did a great job, but we didn’t have enough in that game.”
The result leaves Wimbledon 20 points off second place, and Bull does not hold out much hope for the rest of this season.
He said: “We’ve put any thoughts of catching up out of our minds, we’re now aiming to finish fourth as that’s on par with last season.”
The team has showed plenty of promise this year, with impressive away victories over the top two teams Gravesend and Chichester, and Bull is optimistic about their chances next season.
“Our form definitely bodes well for next season,” he said.
“We have been fairly consistent since November, winning seven of our last 10 games. If we can keep the squad together and avoid injuries, we’ll be hoping to be challenging at the top.”