Dewsbury Rams slipped to a disappointing 26-22 defeat away to Rochdale Hornets last Sunday, which leaves their hopes of a Betfred Championship Shield top-four finish hanging in the balance.
Dewsbury must now beat Leigh Centurions in their final game on Sunday to confirm a fourth place finish, while Rochdale have handed themselves a lifeline of finishing off the foot of the table.
Dewsbury produced a late fight back at the Crown Point Arena but it wasn’t enough to prevent defeat.
The Rams made a blistering start to the game and grabbed two tries in the opening five minutes.
It took the visitors just three minutes to hit the front as they capitalised on a penalty as the ball was worked left and Micheal Knowles burst through the Hornets defence to score in the corner.
Paul Sykes then made a terrific break up the middle and found half-back partner Brad Delaney in support to send him scampering over to score next to the posts.
Sykes converted the latter try and the Rams led 10-0 inside six minutes.
Dewsbury had produced one of their best displays of the season in winning 38-6 at Spotland back in February but thoughts of a similar result were soon ended as Rochdale clicked into gear.
Rochdale struck back when half-back Danny Yates kicked wide and Rob Massam palmed the ball back for Setareki Talatoka to gather and score in the corner.
Tyler Whittaker’s conversion attempt struck a post but it wasn’t long before the Hornets were in again.
Richard Lepori produced a lovely pass to Deon Cross and the young winger did superbly to stay in play and dive over at the corner.
Dewsbury mounted a spell of sustained pressure as a kick to the in goal area forced Rochdale to drop out.
Lee Mitchell dropped a pass as Dewsbury forced a repeat set and when Yates knocked on attempting an interception, it gave the Rams chance to exert more pressure but Rochdale survived four successive sets.
When a wayward Rams pass went to ground, Whittaker scooped the ball up and sent Cross racing away 60 metres to score in the corner.
Rochdale grabbed a crucial third try after 37 minutes when Dec Gregory scooted from acting half back to slam the ball down at the side of the posts. Whittaker added his first goal of the game as the Hornets led 18-10.
Whittaker then added a penalty on the stroke of half-time and Rochdale supporters began to believe that their side could produce a great escape.
Rochdale continued their purple patch at the start of the second half and extended their lead when Lewis Hatton met the ball at pace to storm over next to the posts, giving Whittaker a simple conversion.
Play then became scrappy as Rochdale looked to close the game out.
Dewsbury thought they had pulled a try back but it was ruled out for a forward pass before the Rams did manage to mount a late fight back.
Rob Worrincy had scored a memorable length of the field try on Dewsbury’s last visit to the ground and he repeated the feat to give his side hope.
The Rams winger intercepted a pass and raced through the defence before outpacing the cover on a terrific length of the field run which saw him score next to the posts. Sykes converted to reduce the arrears to 10 points.
Just four minutes later, the Rams had real hope of snatching something from the game when Delaney sneaked through a gap in the defence to score his second try.
Sykes again converted and Dewsbury trailed by just four points.
There was a frantic final few minutes as Dewsbury attempted to score again.
However, a dropped pass as they looked to mount an attack handed Rochdale possession and they managed to close the game out to seal a win which sees them move level on 10 points with second-bottom Swinton Lions going into the final round of matches.