HEAD coach Paul Dunne insists National Two South survival is still within Bournemouth’s grasp despite Shelford’s smash and grab raid on Saturday.

Lions were left languishing 11 points from safety in English rugby’s fourth tier after they had gifted their Cambridgeshire visitors three tries in a 27-20 defeat at Chapel Gate.

It was another bitter blow for Budge Pountney’s men who spent much of the second half on the front foot, only to hand the initiative back to their clinical adversaries.

The reverse extended to 12 matches Bournemouth’s losing league streak while relegation rivals Dings Crusaders – Lions’ conquerors last weekend – won at bottom club Exmouth.

But despite the prospect of the drop looming large, Pountney’s right-hand man Dunne believes his charges can take heart from close calls against Southend, Chinnor, Dings and Shelford as they look to end their deflating run of form.

Dunne told the Daily Echo: “It is so frustrating because we are playing some really good rugby but we just can’t seem to quite get over the line.

“I firmly believe we are going in the right direction. It is highly important for us that the guys remain competitive and stay behind what we are trying to do.

“The amazing thing is that nobody is downbeat and if we are to turn the corner, we must maintain that.

“We don’t prepare for failure and I still believe we will be fine. It is my job to make sure we don’t start thinking it (the relegation battle) is all over because it is not.

“When that first win comes, they will keep coming. There were three or four games recently that we should have won but didn’t.”

On the Shelford defeat, Dunne, who used to coach at Lions’ league rivals London Irish Wild Geese, added: “In the first five or six minutes, we were a little bit loose and got punished but across the whole match, we played all the rugby and were the better side all day long.

“We want to play a particular way and stick to our principles, which involves a massive transition, but our performances are now adjusting to that.”