A last gasp try from Stu Huxter cost Harpenden as they suffered a 25-20 defeat against UCS Old Boys.
In a close and hard-fought affair, it was Harps who struck first when, after a good period of pressure for the away side, outside centre Aaron Wilde crashed over in the right corner.
UCS hit back with a penalty and with their pack starting to dominate in the scrums and mauls, prop Dave Myers went over for a converted try.
Harpenden’s backs were looking lively though, and it was no surprise when inside centre John Barton went over for a try, following a powerful run by Tom Muskett. Wilde duly converted to put his side ahead.
However, Harpenden suffered a blow on 35 minutes when flanker Ali Mills was yellow carded.
Exploiting their numerical advantage, UCS retook the lead when Ike Mbali went over for a try in the corner and they then added a penalty just before half-time to lead 18-12 at the break.
UCS began the second period as they had finished the first and it looked as though Harps might concede further tries.
But their defence held firm and they reduced the deficit when Muskett raced on to a kick to touch down. Wilde added a converted penalty shortly afterwards to give the away side a two-point advantage.
Muskett’s fine effort appeared to galvanise Harps and they came forward in waves looking to take control of the contest.
But the UCS defence performed well to keep their opponents at bay. However, a moment of indiscipline by stand-in hooker Nick Chichester-Miles saw him yellow carded with ten minutes remaining.
With a one-man advantage for the second time in the game, UCS rallied but found it difficult to break through.
With the referee ready to blow the final whistle, Harps, at 20-18 ahead, looked as though they had done just enough to cling on for a win.
But UCS launched one desperate final attack and when the ball came out to wing Huxter, he slipped past two Harpenden defenders to score under the posts. The try was duly converted to give the hosts a five-point winning margin.