Old Rishworthians saved their best performance until the last game of the season on Saturday, a 38-32 home win over Yarnbury moving them up into mid-table in Yorkshire Two.
Their opponents made sure of promotion with a losing bonus point and a four-try bonus point to give them added impetus for a trip to Twickenham next week in the Intermediate Vase final.
Rishworthians, in spite of missing their three biggest pack members, were brilliant at times.
Yarnbury, though, kept hitting back and the Copley men had to hang on grimly in the last five minutes.
It was clear from the start that the home team were fired up, winning a penalty straight from the kick-off. Though fullback Joe Billing missed the kick, it led to a try.
From the drop-out, right wing Alex Kindred made a fine catch and put in a strong run to the line. He was held up, but a series of forward drives ended with prop Ryan Mudd touching down. Billing converted.
Yarnbury hit back with speedy left wing Ellis Gomersall getting the first of his three tries. Then sloppy Rishworthian tackling allowed lock Ian Maycock in at the corner for another unconverted try.
The visitors went further ahead with a penalty but as the half ended Rishworthians began to find their momentum again.
Fine passing almost saw Kindred and flanker Gerard Rollings get over, before play was switched and the ball sent wide for left wing Anthony Shoesmith to round his man and score wide out. Billing converted.
Straight from the restart Rishworthians were on the attack and scored with the last move of the half.
Mudd made a great break and the ball was taken on by Rollings. He was stopped short, but managed to get it away for hooker Simon Edmundson to touch down. Billing’s kick made it 21–13 at the break.
The Copley men started the second half as they finished the first. Replacement prop Martin Brook took a fine catch from the kick-off to set up the ruck and player-coach Damian Ball made a stylish break in midfield almost getting centre Kurt Sutcliffe over. Kindred took it on but was held. The ball came out and a short pass from Ball saw lock Callum Heseltine storm over. Billing converted.
Undeterred, Yarnbury hit back and stand-off Carl Paterson jinked over for a converted try. Gomersall then got his second after charging down a clearance kick.
Leading 28–25, Rishworthians did not panic and a superb off-load from Mudd resulted in lock Fraser Swarbrooke touching down.
Yarnbury hit back again, Gomersall finding himself unmarked to score a converted try to make it 33–32.
Rishworthians were determined though, and Rollings picked up loose ball and scored an unconverted try.
The visitors threw everything at the Copley men in the last five minutes, but the home side defended determinedly to hold on for a deserved victory.
Rishworthians seconds went down 24–6 at Ilkley, with Cameron Duffy kicking two penalties.