SOUTHEND slipped in to the relegation zone for the first time this season after losing 22-15 at home to Redruth on Saturday.

The defeat was the Seasiders’ seventh in their last eight games.

But club chiefs felt it was the team’s best display of the campaign so far.

Redruth, who are fourth in the table, were made to work hard for the win and went in front early on with a penalty from Paul Thirlby.

Despite these setbacks Southend kept their shape and commitment and scored two classic tries through Mark Billings.

The first came on the 10 minute mark when he collected the ball in midfield and took off, drawing a tackler he offloaded to Danny Cleare who continued the charge.

Billings kept his run in support and cut inside, Cleare slipped him a smart pass and he was through a bemused Redruth defence and under the posts.

Jack Jones converted and Southend moved ahead, 7-3.

Eight minutes later they were at it again.

This time an attempted Gary Owen failed to be caught and Cleare seized on it.

His quick pass found Chris Vaughan who shipped it to Jones who kicked across field for the lurking Billings.

He hacked it on and won the foot race to the try-line to make it 12-3.

But Redruth soon replied with a try from the league’s top try scorer, number eight Thomas Duncan.

Thirlby added the conversion to cut the Seasiders’ lead to 12-10 A penalty from Jones soon put Southend further ahead but, just before the break, Cleare was yellow card for not staying on his feet at a breakdown.

Redruth immediately gained a line-out that produced a gap in Southend’s defence for centre Craig Bonds to race through and score.

Thirlby converted the easy kick so Redruth went into the break two points ahead.

The second half continued to be a good game of rugby without Southend being able to get any fluency to their game.

Almost every attack they mounted was stopped by some infringement or another and the penalties kept on a coming.

Redruth soon took advantage when another maul led to a second try from Duncan to make it 22-15.

And, despite enjoying a spell of late pressure, Southend were unable to register any more points.