It was a historic day for Old Rishworthians yesterday with the first team and development side both clinching promotion.
The firsts will be playing in Yorkshire One next season - the highest level of league rugby they have ever played - after a hard-fought 29-22 home win over Wetherby.
The development side are on the up from the Aire Wharfe West Merit Table after a 32-3 win at Ilkley.
Rishworthians only needed one victory from their last three games to gain promotion from Yorkshire Two but with a number of forwards missing – including player-coach Chris Stone – they found it hard to contain a much heavier Wetherby pack, who scored two pushover tries.
In the last five minute the home forwards found renewed strength and held out under extreme pressure.
“In a way I’m glad we had to endure those last five minutes. We really showed our mettle and stood up to the pressure,” said assistant coach Tom Andrews.
“Wetherby played their part in a great game, but for us it’s job done with two games to go.
“The Development team and the juniors’ sides have played a major part in helping us get where we are today. But the hard work starts now, as we want to ruffle a few feathers in Yorkshire One,” he said.
Rishworthians attacked from the start. Eventually Wetherby cleared but centre Taniela Bakoso brought the ball out of defence and right wing Matthew Hunt-Brown and No 8 James Clarke went close before Bakoso finished.
When a kick from Josh Kelly was not fielded by the visitors’ defence, scrum half Ed Cockroft put in another good kick and the bounce favoured left wing Anthony Shoesmith, who ran in to score. Kelly added the conversion.
Wetherby’s pack then took over and continually pushed Rishworthians back in the scrum, eventually gaining a converted pushover try.
The home side struggled to hold their own up front and a penalty to the visitors made it 12-10.
Good Wetherby tackling prevented Rishworthians making another breakthrough, but Kelly increased the lead with a penalty.
The visitors hit back immediately and sloppy tackling allowed them to run in a good try, which was converted, to give them a 17-15 half-time lead.
Rishworthians were on the attack from the restart and when a Wetherby chip was blocked by centre Sam Nunn, the ball rebounded to Bakoso, who put Shoesmith in for his 27th try of the season. Kelly converted.
Nunn, Hunt-Brown and lock Callum Heseltine all went close before Cockroft picked up a loose ball and dived over for a bonus point fourth try. Kelly converted.
In the last quarter the Wetherby pack took charge and soon gained a pushover try.
From then on it was constant pressure from the visitors, but for the first time in the game the Rishworthian scrum held firm.
Cockroft made a brilliant tackle on his opposite number and in the last seconds another try-saving tackle came from replacement winger Ben Wainwright, aided by Bakoso and fullback Luke Flanagan.
Try scorers for the development team were Josh and Luke Illingworth, Lee Atkinson and Sam Bake, who added two conversions and a penalty.