Dewsbury Moor secured promotion to National Conference Division Two on Saturday as they edged out Woolston 16-10 in a cracking play-off final at Heckmondwike Road.
A large crowd of around 500 assembled to watch the pinnacle of Moor’s season — including Batley Bulldogs coach Matt Diskin — and a brilliant run had seen them win their last 11 matches to reach the final.
Moor knew their opponents would be a tough nut to crack, as Woolston had collected eight wins in their previous nine outings to set up a battle of the division’s two in-form teams. Had either team had a bit more luck earlier in the year they could have quite easily both been in automatic promotion places.
The game started in favour of the Maroons and their attacking shape caused Woolston early concern.
Moor’s usual left edge consisting of Ineson, Richardson and Croisdale started dangerously and it was this trio that combined after seven minutes when a smart training ground play saw Croisdale crash over.
Aiden Ineson converted and Moor took an early 6-0 lead.
The next 10 minutes was an end to end battle as both teams tried to assert some dominance and field position.
Then after 18 minutes a couple of Moor penalties gifted Woolston a full set inside the home 20 and the pressure told when winger Alex Dunne was on the end of a passing move to score wide out and reduce the arrears to 6-4.
Moor then lost hooker Bartley O’Brien temporarily when he received treatment to try stem the blood from a serious gash behind the ear.
Tape held the ear on but the injury required seven stitches later on Saturday evening.
Youngster Archie Bruce was introduced and he injected some pace around the ruck, something the 18-year-old has done all year for the Maroons.
The remaining 20 minutes of the half turned into a forward slog as the two packs went head to head with Moor’s Samme, Cameron Bruce, Richardson, Crosswell and Robinson more than holding their own.
It was then Robinson’s turn to require attention when a nasty clash put his teeth through his cheek, an injury that saw him leave the field and not return after requiring 11 stitches. Half-time came and Moor turned around 6-4 ahead in a game that could go either way.
The next 30 minutes saw a continuation of the latter part of the first half as both teams locked horns and defended with vigour.
The breakthrough came after 70 minutes when Richardson made a half-break wide on the left and cleverly slipped the ball out of the back of his hand to an eager Croisdale, who showed terrific pace to go 50 metres untouched, much to the delight of the crowd.
Ineson converted and Moor finally had a cushion, leading 12-4 with 10 minutes remaining.
There was late drama when Woolston second row Sean Conway scored. Walker’s conversion reduced the arrears to just a couple of points.
From the resulting kick-off that lifeline disappeared as the high kick bounced and a rampant James Samme collected the ball at full pace to go 30 metres into the Woolston half.
With seconds on the clock the ball was moved left from the resulting play and Jordan Foster walked over in the corner to put the game beyond doubt and spark raucous celebrations. It was a try the full-back thoroughly deserved having been put to the test and saving a couple of Woolston efforts earlier in the game.
James Samme took the man-of-the-match plaudits closely followed by Foster, stand-off Luke Adamson and the duo of Richardson and Croisdale, while the game also saw 19-year-old replacement prop Connor Gavaghan have his best game of the season.
Promotion was an accumulation of several years’ hard work from everyone involved at Dewsbury Moor.
The team that took the field Saturday included 14 players under the age of 22, with 15 of the 17 having played their junior rugby for the club. It has taken three years for the squad to come of age at the NCL level but the future is bright and Moor finally have an open age squad that can see them move forward over the next few years.
Two players, however, not going forward next year due to retirement are Bartley O’Brien and James Eatherley, both of whom have been great servants to the club and everyone involved wishes them well.