LUCTONIANS were dealt a cruel blow in the National League 2 West title race as a 8-10 home defeat to Clifton resulted in Dings taking top spot away from the Herefordshire side.

St Patrick's day at Mortimer Park saw Lucs up against third place Clifton in front of a large and enthusiastic home crowd of 698.

The away side played with loads of endeavour and for most of the first half they were camped in the home sides half, but they struggled to make any leeway against a resolute home defence.

Lucs’ penalty count was however high, and it was no surprise when home prop Conor Deignan was carded for persistent infringements in their red zone after 20 minutes.

Clifton took full advantage and scrum half Mitchell Spencer lofted a high ball into the corner where wing Zakaria Hamid took the catch and dived over to score the first points of the game after 24 minutes.

Number 10 Luke Cozens’ kicked a fine conversion to give Clifton a 7-0 advantage which they maintained until half-time.

Luctonians were fast out of the blocks after the restart and had one of their few forays into Clifton territory and visiting centre Marcus Nel receive a yellow from referee Neil Sweeney for cynical play,

Tom Jones stepped up to kick the awarded penalty to give the home side their first points against the run of play (3-7).

The momentum changed and the home side were now on the front step, and pressure on the Clifton defence saw the home side score their only try from a well worked driving maul from 20 metres out.

The diminutive Seb Robinson found himself on the bottom of the pile, ball in hand to give the home side a 8-7 lead.

The game turned into a battle between defences and the high tackle count took its toll with numerous stoppages for injuries.

Clifton were again seeing more of the ball in Luc’s territory but they struggled to get over their try line, as Lucs well marshalled defence was superb.

However, the home side couldn’t hang on and Clifton were awarded a penalty from a ruck in directly in front of the posts on 71 minutes and Cozens kicked the penalty.

Clifton held on to their 8-10 lead despite the best efforts of Luc’s home crowd who tried to will their side back towards victory.

Lucs will have pick themselves up and go again next week away at Chester, looking to get back on the winning trail.

However, they now sit two points behind Dings Crusaders at the top of National League 2 West with four matches remaining.