A patched-up Thornhill Trojans side suffered an 18-16 defeat away to Bradford Dudley Hill in National Conference League Division One.
Despite lacking several key players, the Trojans produced a terrific performance and could consider themselves unfortunate not to have at least earned a draw.
The Trojans’ hopes of salvaging a point were thwarted by a 78th minute goal from Elliot Cousins after Dudley Hill had been awarded a penalty for stealing the ball.
It was a bitter pill to swallow for the Trojans after they had battled back admirably from conceding two tries in the opening five minutes.
Dudley Hill were awarded a penalty and the defence was split wide open with a precision pass, which sent Danny Samuels between the posts. Eliot Cousins converted.
Dudley Hill then broke down the wing and the ball was worked in field for Martin Southwell to finish off the move with an unconverted try.
A noticeable absence for the Trojans was Liam Morley, suffering from a rib injury picked up in the National Cup final, while Danny Ratcliffe had not fully recovered and had to settle for a place on the bench.
This gave a new half-back pairing of Scott Dyson and Luke Carter an opportunity to make an impression.
Dyson went on to collect the man of the match award while Luke Carter also produced a fantastic display, with support from Jake Ratcliffe and Jake Wilson.
Jake Ratcliffe set up Thornhill’s first real attack when he found James Craven, who was stopped agonisingly close to the try line.
As Thornhill grew in confidence George Woodcock and Joss Ratcliffe become more involved and looked dangerous.
Thornhill hit back after 30 minutes when Jake Wilson took play forward and winger Joss Ratcliffe proved to be the perfect decoy runner to create space for Craven to plunge over for a try in the corner.
Craven was injured in the act of scoring, sustaining a badly cut head, which forced him to leave the field before Sam Ratcliffe kicked a brilliant goal from the touchline.
Dudley Hill’s Neil Wall was sin-binned on the stroke of half-time and with an extra man advantage and trailing 10-6 at the interval, Thornhill had hopes of turning the game round.
However, nothing was made of the man advantage and when Wall returned, he broke down the wing and sent Andrew Walker over for a try that Cousins converted.
Dudley Hill then had a second player sin-binned when Anthony Lawton was spotted kicking out by the referee.
Thornhill finally took advantage when Mindaugas Bendikas broke clear and skipped round two defenders to score. Sam Ratcliffe converted.
Danny Ratcliffe kicked to the in-goal area and Sam Ratcliffe pounced for the try. The goal was missed but the teams were level.
Agonisingly Thornhill were penalised for ripping late on and Cousins kicked the penalty to give his side victory.