Old Rishworthians got a losing bonus point in a 16-15 home defeat against the runaway Yorkshire One leaders York but they deserved even more.
They might have got it too but with two minutes to go Josh Kelly’s penalty effort was agonisingly off target.
Before that birthday boy Kelly had slotted five penalties as Rishworthians gave York a real fright.
Defences on both sides were awesome and try scoring opportunities were few and far between.
It was a case of Rishworthians being dominant in the forwards, while York had the edge in the backs.
The home side’s front five of props Harry Whitfield and Josh Crickmay, hooker Chris Stone and locks Fraser Swarbrooke and Jack Andrews were magnificent throughout, while the back row of Chris Flanagan, Harvey Keighley-Payne and Gerard Rollings were quick to snuff out the threat from their opponents.
It was nip and tuck throughout and once again Rishworthians started the game strongly.
The forwards ripped into the York defence and penalties had to come. It meant that after 15 minutes they had moved into a 9–0 lead with three Kelly successes.
The visitors came back and a good break in the centre led to a penalty, allowing them to reduce the arrears.
Kelly was on hand again to restore the nine-point gap with another penalty.
Defences were on top, however, as both sides cancelled the other out to prevent any further score before half-time.
The visitors came out strongly in the second half and a kick took them close to the home line. It looked as though Keighley-Payne had been pulled down in the lineout, but the ball ran to York’s outstanding No 8 Shane Goulding, who darted over.
Fullback George Davies kicked what turned out to be a vital conversion as they narrowed the gap.
Kelly increased it again with another penalty, but York replied with two of their own to take the lead.
While home wings Sam Nunn and Olly Scrimshaw rarely saw the ball, they and centres Doug Heseltine and Ben Waud played their part in defence.
Fullback Luke Flanagan showed silky skills with some good breaks and scrum half Ed Cockroft was an ever-present threat.
Forward replacements, prop Phil Kershaw and teenage lock James McHugh, added to the forward pressure and replacement back Joe Billing was quickest to scamper back and save Rishworthians from a York break-out.
In the last quarter both sides went all out for the win, Keighley-Payne putting in a great try-saving tackle in one York attack.
In the final minutes it was all Rishworthians as they desperately tried to snatch the game. Eventually their hopes rose with the penalty, only to be dashed, and there was barely time to restart before the end.