Throughout the season demotion seemed inevitable. But in the end it came down to the single point such was the customary run-in to the end of the season. Inevitably, we can't help thinking back to October and surrendering a 26—nil lead to Lydney, how ironic in the final analysis, then, in the middle of a real revival, going down to Barnes, both at home, either would have kept our destiny in our own hands, then Saturday's performance at home to Southend would have been more than enough.
Southend took an early lead with fly-half Tom Arnott crossing for a try but before the end of the first quarter Combe had moved into a five point lead with tries from Chris O'Neill and Kieron Leeper and such was the pressure, on the half hour mark, a Penalty Try
and conversion from Joe Simpson
Combe were playing some good rugby at this stage with the forwards dominating and the backs matching Southend's speed, and their handling and innovative play was tearing Southend's defence apart.
Chris O'Neill's try came with a lightning strike from the base of a scrum, Kieron Leeper's from a deft chip over the defence and speed to the touch-down in the in-goal area and the Penalty Try
when a ruck trundled to the line before being pulled down.
On the stroke of half-time James Lindfield stormed over following powerful work again from the forwards in a maul for the bonus point and Combe took a 22—5 lead into the interval.
In the second-half the appalling wet and windy weather took its effect (Combe missed five of their six kicks in the game and Southend one of three) and the game generally sank into a dour war of attrition.
After ten minutes Southend scored a try through flanker Andrew McLintock and conversion by winger Tom Ashton.
Ten minutes later James Lindfield extended Combe's lead with his second try after some protracted work by the forwards close to the line.
Another ten minutes and it was Southend's turn to score. Winger Chris Vaughan getting the touch-down and Tom Ashton the conversion.
If Southend had made another strike in the last ten minutes we would have been in for the the sort of tense finish that we have come to expect at Goddington Dene, but it wasn't that sort of game so the end came without drama.
We soon learnt of Barnes fate, and hence our own, that gave a bitter sweet taste to what was otherwise the sort of victory, from good solid rugby, that we would have revelled in at any other time.
James Lindfield's two tries gave him eight tries from his 12 games and Kieron Leeper 15 from 26. Luke Giles kicked 29 conversions and 30 penalties from 20 games and with a try was the highest points scorer, 153.
Combe's Team: Chris O'Neill; Chris Lewis
, Nikki Davies, Ben Hough
, Kieron Leeper; Joe Simpson
, Charlie Edwards; Ben McKinnell, Matt Brierley
, Dale Bellinger
, Tom Clarke
, Jon Wright
; Hamish Barton
, James Lindfield, Jon West.
Match Reporter: Mike Attewell