An error-strewn display cost Dorking dearly on Saturday as they fell short against spirited Shelford.
After two high-scoring games on the trot, Dorking failed to find the spark they needed in a rain-lashed game at Big Field.
It started brightly enough when captain for the day Fraser MacDonald slotted a penalty after 7 minutes and Dorking looked very dangerous whenever their backs had space to attack.
But Shelford took their chances well, capitalising on two poor clearance kicks to apply pressure which they turned into quick tries. And their pack picked up the scent of blood to grab a third for a 21-3 lead at half time.
Dorking looked odds on to pull a score back when fly half Adam Worth put centre Fraser Mosley through for a seering break to the line. As he was tackled short he threw out a pass which the winger could not hold and the opportunity went begging.
The second half showed improvement as the forwards stuck to the task and young lock Jasper King was rewarded for a good display with his first try of the season, converted by Macdonald.
Sadly another poor clearance from a restart put the Red and Whites back under pressure and the Shelford No8 picked from the base of the scrum and brushed off tackles. He will surely not get an easier score this season.
Dorking backs combined once more to put full back Ed carne in for a good try, converted by Macdonald, but were unable to press any further against a resolute Shelford defence.
Director of Rugby Armand Roux said: “After a tough week over in Guernsey, we worked really hard on a couple of bits during the week. I think we rectified those bits, but the amount of individual errors today was way too high.
“Credit to Shelford for taking their opportunities well and really taking the game to us. Every basic error we made, they capitalised on. It was definitely not a true reflection of how we can play or what we can do.
“With plenty of time on the clock, we started chasing the game and I thought that we should of just stayed calm and played in the right areas.
“We can still positives out of the game. Our lineouts functioned really well. Good tackles were flying in and I was pleased to see some good individual performances out there.
“It is just a matter of time until we “click” on the pitch and with this youthfull side we are progressing slowly but surely. These days happen.”
Dorking now have a weekend off to regroup before tough away fixtures against Westcombe Park and Sutton & Epsom.
Squad: Ben Knight, Jonny Ellis, Fred Evans, Jasper King, Jake Dobson, Steve Howorth, Oli Edwards, Harry Watts, Zach Woodcock, Adam Worth, Cam Osborne, Fraser Macdonald (Captain), Fraser Mosley, Mike Terelak, Ed Carne. Subs: George Evans, Harry Sheppard, Kilian Wilson