Kirkby Lonsdale 29

Sheffield 35

IN the end it wasn't to be.

Having battled back to within a point of Sheffield in a gripping, thrilling promotion play-off, the Yorkshireman grabbed a dramatic and decisive late try to seal a 35-29 the win.

Victory and a chance of playing in National League Three North may had gone but belief hadn't - something that Kirkby Lonsdale will take in to next season.

More than 1,000 spectators crammed in to Underley Park for the biggest match in the club's history.

Blustery rain sweeping the ground could not dampen the atmosphere as Sheffield, the team from the big city, came to the Kirkby, the market town and smallest club in North One West.

It was the visitors who got the scoreboard working first, kicking a penalty after eight minutes.

But Kirkby stormed back through a break by scrum half Ben Walker and although he was held five metres out, an infringement as the forwards drove towards the line resulted in the referee awarding a penalty try.

Tom Pickthall converted to make it 7-3.

It was already proving to be a ding-dong battle and with barely a quarter of the match gone, the lead changed hands once again, Sheffield scoring under the posts - the conversion easily added - after disrupting a Kirkby scrum.

On the half hour, the referee awarded another penalty try, this time to Sheffield as they opened up a 10-point 17-7 lead.

There was another set back for Kirkby as Pablo Kwiczor replaced Jonas Thorsen in the front row while an injury to in-form centre Jack Akrigg forced him off the field and out of the game.

With half time approaching, Kirkby was penalised for collapsing a scrum around twenty five metres out and the resulting penalty was slotted over to give Sheffield a 20-7 lead.

Kirkby needed to score first in the second half and they did just that when dynamic flanker Stuart Storey powered over for the try - after more good work from influential scrum half Walker - and Pickup added the extras to close the gap to 20-14.

But from the resulting try, Kirkby blindside flanker David Cooper-Dunn was harshly penalised and yellow carded for taking a Sheffield player out in the end at the restart and Sheffield led 23-14

Although a man down, Kirkby refused to surrender and Walker got the try he deserved, reacting quickest to pick up a loose ball after livewire winger Harry Ralston had charged down an attempted clearance kick by Sheffield. Pickthall’s conversion brought Kirkby to within two points, trailing just 23-21.

The game was now on a knife edge but it was Sheffield who struck the next blow to stretch their lead to 30-21.

But Kirkby refused to be beaten. A high tackle on on Storey resulted with Pickthall pinging over the penalty to cut the gap to 30-24 and Kirkby moved to within a point after Bird scored in the left corner after a great break from Dave Barton. Pickthall's conversion attempt from the touchline went agonisingly wide.

Kirkby batted away at the Sheffield line and full back Chris Ramwell just failing to hold onto a try scoring pass. But in virtually the last play of the match,

Sheffield got a move going from inside their own half to seal their victory with an unconverted try by the right corner flag.