PERFORMANCE director Richard Sharp admits Bournemouth were left "heartbroken" by their last-gasp defeat to Leicester Lions.

The Dorset side looked set for just a second victory of the season when reliable scrum-half Grant Hancox landed a penalty with five minutes remaining to put his team 16-14 in the lead.

But poor discipline opened the door for the visitors to sneak in at the stroke of time. Camped on their own line, the Bournemouth scrum creaked as Leicester Lions repeatedly opted not to kick for the posts from a wide position.

A penalty miss and unsuccessful drop-goal attempt from stand-off Ben Young looked to have let the hosts off the hook, but when a third opportunity came around in the last play of the game, Young made no mistake, landing the winning penalty to seal a 17-16 triumph.

“Obviously we are heartbroken to lose in the last play of the game by one point,” said Sharp.

“It’s a tough one to swallow. But the young boys will be gaining huge experience from these games.

"The whole pack played really well against a more experienced Leicester unit.

“We would score and then not restart properly which kept us under pressure and kept Leicester in the game."

Hoping to mark captain Joe Rees's 150th league appearance for the club with victory, the game began in disastrous fashion for Bournemouth as they went 8-0 down inside five minutes. A penalty from Young was followed swiftly by a try in the corner for Leicester wing Kaz Henderson after defensive mistakes.

But the home team rallied and dominated possession and territory for the remainder of the half. A Hancox penalty was the only other action on the scoreboard in a fractious first period.

The high tackle that led to the penalty could easily have seen Leicester reduced to 14 players, and further off-the-ball incidents eventually saw their flanker George Turner sent to the bin on 24 minutes.

Another Young penalty after the break took Leicester to and eight-point lead before magical interplay between centres Scott Chislett and Freddie Gleadowe saw the latter score his fifth try of the season on the hour, with Hancox’s conversion bringing Bournemouth to just one point behind at 11-10.

The teams exchanged penalties and Leicester were reduced to 14 once again, with wing Devon Constant binned for slowing ball with his side under intense pressure. Shortly before he returned Hancox landed the penalty that put his team in front, only for the cruel finish to devastate the home fans.

Results elsewhere were not kind to Bournemouth, with near rivals Westcliff and Saturday's opponents Sutton & Epsom both taking points to leave Lions six points adrift at the bottom.

But Sharp remains confident that his team has what it takes to catch them and survive in National Two South for another season.

“We look forward to S&E this week," said Sharp.

"If we keep putting in these performances the wins will come and staying in National Two is absolutely achievable."

With Mike Pope taking over as head coach after the departure of club stalwart Jon Sanchez - a second change at the top in what has been a tumultuous season - the players must now adapt once more, and will need to draw inspiration from the rampant support of the home fans.

Sharp said: “It was great to hear the Chapel Gate crowd getting behind the boys (on Saturday) and to see Jon in the stand with a pint.

"It was a fantastic game to watch, especially if you were a neutral."