SOUTHEND suffered a fifth successive National Two South defeat on Saturday, losing 39-8 at Hartpury College.
The Seasiders were unable to turn their periods of pressure into points.
But their director of rugby Chris Green refused to be too downbeat.
“We actually did alright against a very strong team,” said Green.
“We were in the game before giving away an intercepted try and then one from a kick ahead.
“After that we got back into things again, but Hartpury scored a couple of late tries to give them a higher margin of victory.
“However, I was still encourag-ed by the performance and we have a few players coming back now who should hopefully be able to make a difference.”
Darren Crompton got the ball rolling for Hartpury when the prop forward touched down at the back of the maul after six just minutes.
But Hartpury then lost Ian Clark to the sin bin and were forced to weather significant pressure.
Southend failed to convert their dominance into points and the hosts punished them brutally with three tries in the space of four minutes.
Steph Reynolds grabbed the first before Clark grabbed the second after returning to the field. Shortly after that, Alex Woodburn also touched down after a Clark interception to score under the post.
Jack Jones pulled a score back for Southend with a penalty before the deficit was reduced even further with a close range try from skipper Michael Guess.
But Chris Fortey swiftly cancelled out that effort with a try from a catch and drive, and Callum O’Connell ghosted over just before the hour.
Clark added a seventh try at the death as Hartpury went wide off a scrum, with Craig Jackson slotting the extras.
The result kept Southend in the relegation zone and, with fellow strugglers Lydney beating Shelford 22-17, the Seasiders are now five points from safety.
They will therefore be hoping for an improved result this weekend when they host Shelford at Warners Bridge.
Southend: Billings, Cleare, Vaughan, Ashton, Burr, Jones, Daly, M Guess, Keenan, Strachan, McClintock, Douglas, Fombo, Barker, Cook.
Replacements: Bailey, Grier, Hudson, Branch & Sansom.