UNBEATEN Underbank Rangers remained top of the Co-operative Conference National after a bruising battle that brought an 18-12 home win over Kippax Knights.

The contest looked to be heading for a draw after Kippax pulled level on after 72 minutes with an Andy Speak penalty goal, but three minutes from time Rangers grabbed victory.

The try came when prop Chris Geoghegan made a break which was carried on by Jack Mitchell, and the ball was transferred to Lee St Hilaire to send his winger Courtney Allette racing over in the corner for the crucial score.

Rangers player-coach Richard Knight missed the conversion and the home side only led by four points, but he sealed the win with a penalty when the Kippax restart following Allette’s try sailed into touch on the full.

Underbank were only able to muster 16 players due to their long injury list, plus player unavailability, but they showed determination, character and stamina to defeat an improving Kippax outfit, who demonstrated why they had moved up to fourth in the table on the back of three consecutive wins.

Underbank opened the scoring at the end of the opening set of six.

From deep inside their own half the ball was swiftly moved to the left to give Adam Ryder the overlap.

The centre raced upfield, but ignored the support either side of him and was well tackled by full-back Danny Agar.

From the next play Knight flighted a kick to the corner for Allette to leap high above his opposite and plant the ball down in the corner.

Knight missed the goal attempt, but the home side were off to a flying start.

However, Kippax were not rocked by this early setback as their pack met fire with fire.

The visitors dominated for most of the first half, but Underbank’s superb defence with Knight, Geoghegan and Mitchell to the fore, repelled wave after wave of attacks.

Rangers increased their lead on 34 minutes with a Knight penalty, but Kippax half-back Speak then produced a kicked through for winger Andy Matthews to race over in the corner.

Speak converted from the touchline and the sides were locked at 6-6 at half-time.

Kippax took the lead early in the second half when centre Stuart Biscomb ran a superb line to score after receiving a delayed pass from Speak.

Speak crucially missed the goal attempt, but his side still led by four points.

It was Underbank’s Adam Carroll who put his team back in front.

After good work from Williams and St Hilaire, the diminutive Carroll burrowed his way over the line. Knight converted and the home side led again.

After Knight had pulled a penalty shot wide from 40 metres, Speak levelled the scores once more with a 72nd-minute penalty and the scene was set for the climactic finish with the late touchdown and Knight’s penalty.

Underbank Rangers: Midgley; Allettte, St Hilaire, Ryder, Aka; Knight, Chatterton; Geoghegan, Carroll, Dalby, Worthington, Williams, Mitchell. Interchange: Berry, Cummings, Horn (not used).

Kippax Knights: Agar; Cryer, Jessey, Biscomb, Matthews; Speak, Oliver; Williamson, Boswell, Taylor, Firth, Jones, Redfearn. Interchange (all used): Charles, Withington, Leafe, Booth

Referee: Robert Webb

Results: Bramley Buffaloes 10 Featherstone Lions 36, Coventry Bears 28 Hemel Stags 30, Underbank Rangers 18 Kippax Knights 12, Nottingham Outlaws 0 Dewsbury Celtic 44, Warrington Wizards 24 Valley Cougars 37.