BELOW par Bromsgrove were knocked off top spot in Midlands One West after suffering their first league defeat of the season with a surprise 37-29 reverse against Stoke-on-Trent at Finstall Park.

Head coach Dan Protherough offered no excuses for the setback and said: "We didn't turn up and we didn't play well enough.

"Stoke were hungrier and wanted to win more than we did. But it didn't help that we gifted them too many easy points.

"After winning our first nine games, this result comes as a bit of a jolt, a wake-up call if you like. The players have to make sure they learn from this defeat and put matters right.

"We didn't play particularly well the previous week at Rugby Lions, when we won, but sometimes in sport, you have to put your hand up and accept that you've got what you deserved."

More depressing for Protherough was the fact Bromsgrove failed to pick up a bonus point from this defeat which has enabled title rivals Burton to go five points clear while third placed local rivals Dudley Kingswinford have been able to close the gap to just one point.

Protherough added: "We've just won nine games on the bounce, so clearly there's nothing major that's wrong. We just need to do a bit of tinkering.

"The reality is that we've lost one game and the players are licking their wounds. We just have to see what we can do differently."

Prolific point scorer Josh Holt and replacement prop Ethan Priest both provided tries while fly half James Upton kicked the remaining points which arrived through five penalties and a couple of conversions.

Bromsgrove have no fixture this Saturday but then make the short trip to Stourbridge Lions on November 25.