Kidderminster Carolians 19, Earlsdon 33

KIDDERMINSTER Carolians saw their promotion hopes suffer a setback as they endured a rare home loss to title-chasing Earlsdon on Saturday.

While still in with a slim chance of topping the table, they have slipped to third in the Midlands Division Two West (South).

With two games of the season left, KCs can still finish second and secure a place in the play-offs.

KCs had started the game brightly. Winning an early scrum against the head and with skipper Rob Delahay and Layton Wilkinson carrying well to keep the forwards on the front foot, they deservedly took the lead after eight minutes.

Matt Rigsby received a short pass close to Earlsdon’s line and the prop powered through the tackles for the opening try, converted by scrumhalf Chris Pinner.

Earlsdon’s Rory McPheators touched down but the conversion was missed.

Rob Phillips nearly produced a second try for Rigsby but the flowing move also frustratingly ended with a knock on.

KCs were looking the more likely with gaps beginning to appear in Earlsdon’s defence but they were not quite clinical enough to capitalise until from a lineout 30 metres from the visitors’ line five minutes before half-time.

Good work by Phillips and Wilkinson and a neat reverse pass by Pinner found centre Andy McLellan, who ran a great line to go over for a second try, which was then converted.

But the hosts’ lead was cut to two points when Darren Perry touched down and Scott Scott added the extras.

In the second half, the visitors bagged two tries, both scored by Tom Walker and converted by Scott, as KCs slipped 26-14 behind.

KCs lost McLellan through injury but they struck back three minutes later with a try by hooker Joe Kingstone from a lineout drive.

But Kidderminster’s hopes of a fight back were ended when Mark Forsyth burst from a ruck 15m in front of the posts for a fifth try, comfortably converted by Scott.

Needing a converted try to earn two bonus points, KCs battled to the end.

Only an ankle tap prevented Laurence Hughes escaping down the left wing and Nick Martin almost broke through in centrefield but their second half performance had been disappointing and they could have no complaints at the result.

KCs continue their promotion push at Stourbridge Lions on Saturday, April 5.