Stourbridge director of rugby Neil Mitchell admitted to being merciless on his players at training this week in the wake of their 19-16 reverse to title rivals Macclesfield - writes Nick Pullen

Mitchell said: “The disappointment is all mine, because I know we are capable of doing much better.

“It was clear from the outset the game with Macclesfield was going to be tight but we made too many errors — schoolboy one — when we had the line at our mercy.

“I’m told we made 23 unforced errors in the game and that is unacceptable.

“Macclesfield kept the ball well, but when we had the chance to counter, we fluffed our lines.”

Mitchell has vowed to make changes for this Saturday’s trip to Otley.

He added: “I believed we had our strongest side out against Macclesfield, but too many of them underperformed and that was a massive disappointment to me as well.

“We’re a semi-professional side and I expect a professional performance, yet I’m still having to impress upon them just how important every point is. The upshot is the fact we have to go to Macclesfield and make sure we win there.”

Stour started well enough against Macclesfield when winger Nathan Bressington chased Pete White’s kick to snap up a try in the corner.

Macclesfield hit back with converted tries either side of half time, both through winger Eddie Stobart, grandson of the legendary haulage magnate, with Tom Eaton kicking the extras.

Winger Jamie Hearn cut the deficit with a couple of penalties before replacement Jon Kenny raced over for a third Macclesfield try with 12 minutes remaining.

Stour were straight back in contention again just two minutes later with a try from Stefan Shillingford.

But in an enthralling finish, Stour just failed to snatch victory when replacement winger Matt Farrington was hauled into touch just short of the line by the talismanic Stobart.

Mitchell added: “We have to start clawing points back on Macclesfield and we need to do a job at Otley and focus on five points, but it won’t be easy. They will see this result and smell blood.

“We put 57 points on them at home last season, then lost at their place.”