Barkers Butts 23 Nuneaton Old Eds 22
A TOWERING penalty from way out in the sixth minute of extra time was a sickening injustice for a gallant Eds side as they lost by a single point.
Add in the fact that fellow-strugglers Berkswell & Balsall and Southam both had unlikely win against teams way higher in the table, then this dramatic finale was so much harsher for Eds.
Three tries from Eds hooker George Parker might normally have been enough to win a game but on a day when Eds lost No.8 Tom Hill to a red card after taking a man out in the air and winger Tay Brown to a yellow for a tip-tackle, this was a game battling in which Eds deserved better.
The few remaining games now present a massive challenge to Eds in their fight to avoid the drop.
Eds began by giving away a flurry of penalties and Barkers went 3-0 from one of them.
After 10 minutes to home side were 10-0 ahead with a converted try and it looked like Eds were in for a torrid afternoon.
They had other ideas and on 16 minutes Parker grabbed an opportunist try in the corner and on the half-hour second-row Paul Levin battled over wide out and Eds were level.
Now Brown was yellow-carded and Barkers took the penalty to go ahead 13-10.
Hill could have few complaints about his red. There was no hint of malice in the mid-air challenge on his opposite number but the referee had no choice but to dismiss him.
After half-time Eds rallied and from a line-out close in Eds drove over for Parker's second score. A towering Tom Short conversion took Eds 17-13 up.
Barkers came back with a try in the corner and their fly-half converted - 20-17 to the Coventry side.
The tension among visiting fans reached fever-point as the minutes ebbed away - especially after Parker completed his trio from another pushover - 22-20 to Eds and everything to hang on for.
It was not to be. Eds were penalised way out from their line and up stepped the Barkers No.10. His kick flew high and straight and visiting hearts sank as the whistle sounded.
Nuneaton Old Eds: Sean Haberfield, George Parker, David McAdam, Paul Levin, Ryan Singh, Jack Darlaston, Phil King, Tom Hill, Brad Darlaston, Tom Short, Daniel Elkerton, Craig Jones, Tay Brown and Sam Southall. Replacements: Gareth Cartwright, Duncan Parkinson and Barrie Jones.