CHESTER head to Middlesbrough tomorrow searching for an instant recovery from their first defeat since the end of October.
Director of rugby Steve Dorrington was left 'gutted' on Saturday as his side went down 20-15 at Hull in North One.
The setback ended Chester's chances of building on a run of seven straight victories and was their first loss since the 22-14 reverse at Westoe on October 22.
Dorrington said: 'I'm gutted. How we can have that much pressure and not finish the game off is beyond me.'
Chester started slowly and Hull were first on the scoreboard following a try the visiting team insisted should have been disallowed.
Chester skipper Steve Bellis flicked the ball out of the scrum in the direction of scrum-half Russ Meadows, only to see it land in the hands of the Hull wing forward, who was clearly detached from the scrum, to give the flanker a 5m unopposed stroll over the line.
Despite gaining a foothold in the game, Chester found themselves further behind as Hull capitalised on some confusion to make it 10-0.
The visitors put some points on the board when skipper Bellis went over and Matt Bebbington kicked the conversion, while more forward pressure from Chester resulted in a penalty that Bebbington kicked to tie the scores at 10-10 going into half time.
After the break, the contest degenerated into a dogfight and the referee was required to intervene in a number of flare ups as Chester lost one player to the sin bin and Hull two.
Two further mix-ups in the visitors' ranks allowed Hull to score two more tries to make it 20-10, but Chester refused to give in.
Following wave after wave of pressure, Bellis went over for his second try to bring the score back to 20-15.
Chester then felt they should have been awarded a penalty try following continual infringement by the Hull forwards, collapsing driven scrums and mauls near the line, but the referee disagreed.
Dorrington added: 'I wasn't too happy with the way we started the game, but I was pleased with the character demonstrated in the fight back. Perhaps another referee may have seen things differently and we may have had the luck we deserved.'
Man of the match for Chester was Matt Bellamy. nChester Under 16s sealed a place in the Cheshire Cup semi-finals with a 10-8 victory at Caldy.
In a scrappy affair, Caldy opened the scoring with a penalty in front of the posts.
Chester responded with a try as their forwards drove over the line for Sam Dooley to emerge with the ball. The conversion was narrowly missed by Jim Taylor.
Caldy then replied with a blind-side move to go over in the corner to lead 8-5.
But Chester's Cal Hawthorn finished off a slick backs move to seal the win in the second half.