Indiscipline and the inability to counter their opponents' forte of scoring tries when within sniffing distance of the tryline cost DeA their top-dogs status in the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union's Major Championships.
Defending league champions Asahi Valley rumbled to a 22-3 victory to leapfrog DeA and take top spot in the six-team standings at Happy Valley yesterday.
A win was never in doubt considering the load of good possession Valley enjoyed and the amount of penalties DeA gifted them. But Paul Dingley's men had to spend close to 70 minutes at the barricades before breaching the brave DeA defence.
DeA's tactic of slowing down the game and not allowing Valley to get into stride disrupted their opponents until they scored two tries in the last 10 minutes to extend a 12-3 lead and enter the safety zone.
'It was frustrating for us. They did not play a positive game at all and we couldn't get a pattern going,' said Valley skipper and No 8 Dingley, who was always in the vanguard of his side's attack.
Valley's forwards found their feet in the last 20 minutes and started to string together multi-phase moves which DeA vainly tried to stop. But with Dingley and his forwards firing, the end was inevitable.
Both tries came from close range. The first from a five-metre scrum giving Dingley an easy pushover try and the other from a lineout which saw hard-working hooker Stu Denton driving over. 'Their forwards are very difficult to stop from close range. But we were our worst enemies, giving away penalties in prime positions,' said DeA captain Rob Naylor.
'It was a good effort from the guys to end up with two tries to zero. It was tough but all credit to Valley for sticking it out,' said Dingley.
Valley led 6-3 at half-time - Carl Murray winning the fly-half's battle converting two penalties against Naylor's one - but it should have been more if not for a Denton try being disallowed by the referee.
A drive from a lineout saw Denton bulldoze his way over. But Valley joy over breaking down the stiff resistance was shortlived with the touch judge on the far side pointing out that a Valley player was caught stamping on a fallen DeA opponent.
It was a harsh decision. DeA hooker Leighton Duley, who was on the wrong side of the scrum, was cleverly trying to slow down Valley flanker Wes Packer. It was more a case of trying to clear his feet than stamping.
DeA had no option but to try and be disruptive and slow things down to their own pace. But they went too far in these tactics and failed to use their strength, which was their backline, leaving players like fullback Chan Fuk-ping, wingers Mark Solomon and Ricky Cheuk to take on a defensive role.
To make matters worse, with the game lost, DeA lost flanker Faleniko Gago who was sent off for a high-octane brush with Valley centre Rodney McIntosh. His loss will weaken DeA for next week's crucial match against Football Club.
In the other First Division games, Club defeated AMI Aberdeen 18-13 while PLA Sports Institute beat Headstrong Kowloon 22-15.