WORCESTERSHIRE Royals are two points behind National League Division One leaders Lancashire Lightning after experiencing mixed fortunes in their Bank Holiday double-header against Essex Eagles and Warwickshire Bears at New Road.

Following Sunday's comfortable eight-wicket win over Essex, they suffered a setback yesterday when they were beaten by six wickets against arch rivals Warwickshire.

If the County win their last three matches of the season, however, they will be crowned league champions.

Their opponents are Essex away this Sunday, Hampshire Hawks at Southampton seven days later and then a possible title decider with Lancashire at New Road on September 19.

Yesterday their main problem was Warwickshire opener Nick Knight who hit 106 not out to enable the Bears to secure victory with five balls to spare.

His efforts also ended the County's impressive unbeaten eight-match run that included seven wins and a no result.

Knight's ton was his second in the league this term and included 13 fours off 128 balls.

After his side had slipped to 136-4 in their pursuit of a 207-run victory target, he found a reliable partner in Michael Powell who was undefeated on 45 containing five fours off 42 deliveries.

Their unbroken stand was worth 74 in 12 overs and helped ease Warwickshire's relegation worries.

Earlier, Worcestershire's total of 206-6 was boosted by a fine 89 from Graeme Hick.

After opener Philip Weston had gone for six, Hick put on 142 in 39 overs with Elliott Wilson who made 62 -- his best score in any cricket for the County. It contained five fours off 12 deliveries.

Hick, however, was a constant threat to the Bears and by the time he was neatly stumped by Tony Frost off spinner Ashley Giles he had cracked one six and 14 fours off 92 balls.

Hick also picked up £1,571 raised from a ground collection for his Benefit fund.

Against relegated Essex, Worcestershire cruised to victory with 15.3 overs to spare.

After winning the toss, the Eagles had their wings clipped by Alamgir Sheriyar, Gavin Haynes and Richard Illingworth who took two wickets each in a total of 131-9.

Weston (37) and Hick (45no) then saw the County to an eight-wicket victory.