NEIL Shillingford says a "lethargic" performance was to blame for Dudley Kingswinford's disappointing defeat at Stoke.

DK lost ground on Midlands One West's top two after a narrow 18-17 loss last weekend.

They could have snatched victory at the death but Sam Vaughan's conversion attempt in front of the posts sailed wide.

The director of rugby at Heathbrook says he'll now be going easy on his players this week as they look to recharge their batteries ahead of a vital derby encounter with Stourbridge Lions this Saturday (2.15pm kick-off).

Shillingford said: "We didn't deserve the win at Stoke. It was a very lethargic performance from us and I think too many of the lads are carrying little knocks.

"We just looked tired on a pitch that made it difficult for us to pick the pace up.

"We also struggled to find a Plan B. Stoke defended well but we kept trying the same thing again and again and it wasn't working.

"We needed to be more precise and to drop in that Plan B when the time came, but we just didn't do it.

"Despite that we still could have nicked it right at the end after a late try but missed the conversion in front of the posts.

"Sam Vaughan came on and had a really big impact on the pitch but has come back from injury and was still a bit rusty for the kick.

"Either way we'd still have come away feeling like we weren't right."

On this weekend's derby encounter, he added: "It's another local derby but we won't be doing a full training session this week because it was clear that we need to recharge the batteries.

"They'll be coming here thinking it's a good time to play us so we'll have to make sure we don't dwell on the loss and hit back quickly.

"We don't want to be slipping up again and start letting the gap to the top sides get any bigger.

"When we beat Newbold other teams suddenly believed they can be beaten and they have struggled a little since. It's the same for us after losing to Old Hales.

"We have to learn from that Old Hales defeat and make sure we don't get caught up in the occasion and just concentrate on ourselves.

"There is still a lot of rugby to be played and any given weekend can change things around once again, which we have already seen this season."

DK are now six points adrift of both Newbold and second-placed Bromsgrove, who due to visit Heathbrook on January 5.