ROCHFORD Hundred head coach Danny Cleare took full responsibility for his side’s 37-20 defeat to Shelford at Magnolia Road.

The setback saw Rochford slip to fifth in the Regional One South East standings.

But Cleare felt he was to blame after opting to include too many members of his squad who have yet to regain full fitness.

“Fundamentally I take full responsibility for Saturday’s defeat,” said Cleare.

“I picked too many players that were not quite fit enough and not quite match sharp, due to a number of players coming straight back into the team after long injury lay-offs.

“It was a risk I took and it didn’t pay off.

“With only three subs you just can’t afford to pick players that can’t get through 80 minutes.

“Last year with five subs it was something you could get away with but certainly not this year with three subs.”

However, despite those difficulties, Rochford were still on top in the opening exchanges.

But they were unable to make the most of their spell of pressure.

“We started really positively and played all the rugby in their half,” said Cleare.

“We were unfortunate not to score another couple of tries in the first half but Shelford defended really well and scrambled well to stop us.”

And the visitors were able to get on top after the break.

“The second half was all them, certainly for the first 30 minutes of the second half,” said Cleare.

“They didn’t do anything spectacular but capitalised on our mistakes and they were very clinical every time they got into our 22.”

Rochford will now be looking to bounce back this weekend but face a tough-looking test at second-placed Harpenden who are currently two points ahead of Hundred.