Chester RUFC's five-match winning run in National League 2 North came to end on Saturday as they lost an entertaining, high-tempo clash 34-24 at fellow high flyers Stourbridge.
The in-form Hare Lane outfit made the perfect start when winger Craig Ross found a gaping hole in the defensive line to cross the whitewash.
Stourbridge hit back with a converted try of their own, centre James Otutaha touching down from short range.
And, after outside-half Callum Bennett missed the chance to put Chester back in front with a penalty, the West Midlanders extended their advantage.
Firstly though a Luke White penalty and then through a converted try from hooker Sam Wilkes.
Chester replied with a wave of attacks on the Stourbridge 22.
They were replled but only at the expense of a mounting penalty count.
And after referee Jack Makepeace’s patience snapped, home captain Ciaran Moore was sent to the sinbin.
No 8 Dave Ford made the most of the depleted defences in front of him, finishing off a catch-and-drive move. And, six minutes into the second half, Chester forged 19-17 ahead, Ross crashing over for his second try of the afternoon.
At that stage Stourbridge were still a man down, after Otutaha followed Moore into the bin, but that did not prevent them from spinning the ball out wide where fullback Rod Petty’s cut-out pass found loosehead Tom Harrison unmarked.
White then put the hosts eight points in front with a 40m penalty on the hour mark.
However, his namesake, Chester lock Ross White, rounded off a 90m move that started with a turnover to reduce the deficit to 27-24.
With 15 minutes to play, and with legs tiring and gaps opening up, the next score was always going to be decisive.
And it went the way of Stourbridge in the dying moments when Joe Heatley chased down his own kick to seal a bonus-point victory.
Chester, who slipped to sixth and seven points behind table-topping Caldy, will look to return to winning ways at home to third-placed Leicester Lions tomorrow (3pm).
Chester 2nds, meanwhile, continued their good form with a 29-29 draw at home to Fylde 2nds on Saturday.
Christleton lost a closely fought clash 27-24 at Mossley Hill.