Shaw Cross Sharks’ promotion hopes were ended as they suffered a 24-22 defeat in a pulsating game against York Acorn last Saturday.
The sides produced a thrilling National Conference League Division One play-off semi-final, with Acorn snatching victory with a try just three minutes from full-time.
Brett Turner’s side took control early on, building a 14-0 lead only for Acorn to battle back and level before half-time.
Jordan Anderson, returning following a long injury lay-off, produced an excellent kick which saw Ross Roebuck rise highest to collect and plant it down for the opening try.
Just five minutes later, Robbie Byatt sold two excellent dummies and raced away to score and the Sharks extended their lead to 14-0 when Casey Johnson’s neat inside offload allowed Anderson to bustle his way between the posts, with Johnson converting.
York responded well as Joe Budd grabbed a converted try and Jake Calam crossed soon after before Josh Thompson added a third Acorn score on the stroke of half-time to level matters at 14-14.
The Sharks started brightly after the break with Sam Ottewell’s speed causing havoc among the York defenders.
Will Poching controlled matters at acting half-back, with support from Johnson and Anderson.
Captain Andrew Fawkes powered his way through two tacklers to score and Johnson added the extras as the Sharks regained the lead.
York had Thompson sin-binned for dissent and Johnson coolly kicked the resulting penalty to put Shaw Cross 22-14 up.
The Sharks could not take advantage of the extra man, despite piling on further pressure which saw Tom Rogers and Matthew Byatt tackled short of the line.
The Sharks began to tire as Roebuck suffered a bout of cramp, while Anderson was forced off with a knee injury.
Thompson scored on his return to the action and Budd set up a grandstand finish, reducing the arrears to two points, entering the final 10 minute as he added the conversion.
Shaw Cross tried to repel the Acorn attack but just three minutes from full-time, Calam grabbed the visitors’ match-winning try to leave the Sharks heartbroken.
Normanton Knights booked their place in this Sunday’s National Conference Division One play-off final against York Acorn, defeating Ince Rose Bridge 30-26.