HUDDERSFIELD Underbank Rangers face a sudden-death play-off after having victory snatched away at Bramley Buffaloes.
Rangers were just seconds from booking their place in the RL National Conference grand final only to concede a late try and so go down 30-24.
They now face an elimination semi-final against Nottingham Outlaws at The Cross on Saturday.
The prize up for grabs is a chance for revenge over Bramley in the final at Warrington’s Halliwell Jones Stadium on Sunday week, October 4.
Rangers had looked in a healthy position to win through at the first time of asking when full-back Chris Thorley kicked a penalty to edge them 24-22 in front two minutes from time.
However Bramley’s Paul Drake slotted over a 35-metre penalty to level the scores and, with extra time looming, Drake charged down a drop-goal attempt by Rangers’ player-coach Richard Knight and had the composure to collect the ball and outpace the cover to score underneath the posts and then add the goal for good measure.
Underbank created the first opening on two minutes when Tom Senior was put into space.
He looked to outpace the Bramley covering defence, but his inside pass was collected by Shaun Flynn, who returned the ball with interest.
On the back of this attack Bramley forced a drop-out which came to nothing, however a second drop-out resulted in the ball being spun from left to right allowing centre Matt Mullholland to cross out wide. Drake added a superb touchline conversion.
The flow of the game was marred by a succession of penalties, and on 15 minutes, the referee’s patience was tested too much and he sin-binned Drake for one high shot too many.
Underbank took full advantage when hooker Andy Boothroyd proved too strong and scored by the posts.
Half-back Neil Barrett added the conversion to tie the scores.
Bramley replied within three minutes when, following good runs by Craig Green and Chris Gardner, loose-forward Richard Hulme powered over.
Rangers responded when Senior showed impressive balance and footwork to score under the posts. Barrett added the conversion to put Underbank in front 12-10 at half-time.
The Holmfirth side were penalised twice in quick succession upon the restart, allowing Bramley good field position.
And hooker Graham Harrison took full advantage on 42 minutes, when he dived over from dummy half from a couple of metres out. Drake added the simple conversion to put Bramley back in charge.
Buffaloes substitute Danny O’Connor made a big impact in the early stages of the second half.
He made several powerful runs, and from one surge, John Elliker scored a try on 47 minutes when he crashed over from close range, Drake again converting.
Underbank’s woes were compounded three minutes later when Senior was sin-binned after they had conceded a succession of penalties, and within 30 seconds Barrett was dismissed for alleged stamping.
Bramley failed to take advantage of the extra two players as Rangers’ scrambling defence held out with Dave Valentine, Lee St Hilaire and Will Midgley to the fore.
After repelling the Buffaloes, Underbank showed their resolve and St Hilaire raced over after running a great line to scythe through. Thorley added the conversion to cut the deficit to four points.
Underbank were now posing all the attacking threat as the Buffaloes struggled to get their hands on the ball.
The back row of Gary Keegan, Senior and Darren Hawkyard were causing all sorts of problems.
It was Hawkyard who showed great strength to stretch over in the left-hand corner to level the scores, but Thorley was just wide with his goal attempt.
Underbank still had the momentum and on 78 minutes went ahead when Thorley kicked an easy penalty after a high tackle.
As the clock ticked down Drake tied the scores with an 84th-minute penalty for a grapple tackle and then he made his match-winning intervention with seven extra minutes played.