A PENALTY try deep into injury time robbed YMCA of what would have been their second win of the season and allowed visiting North Ribblesdale to waltz off with a 27-26 win and the spoils from Laund Hill.
Leading 26-20, Yorkshire II YM looked to be heading for the points when referee Tal Hatim signalled there was just one minute of the match remaining.
However, the East Yorkshire official appeared to lose track of the time, for after he waved play on from a line-out on YM’s 22 (when No8 Neil Walker looked to be pole-axed in mid-air, causing him to lose the ball) another three minutes expired before North Ribblesdale knocked on and play was brought back for a scrummage.
The visitors put YM under pressure at the set piece, driving them backwards, and suddenly Mr Hatim awarded a penalty try, ruling the YM front row had come up in the scrummage.
The conversion was a formality and the final whistle went as the ball sailed over the bar, leaving YM’s players and supporters dumbfounded and angry.
The home side could consider themselves unlucky to be on the losing end, particularly as they looked the better side when in possession.
Skipper Neil Walker put his side ahead in the 18th minute, when good work from the backs set up the chance, and the big back rower outpaced the remnants of North Ribb’s defence to touch down. Gavin Stead was on kicking duty and duly tacked on the conversion.
Unfortunately, it was a case of roles reversed when it came to the battle of the forwards, with North Ribb including several wily old heads who quickly realised the best plan was to retain the ball and drive everything they could, which is what they did to open their account, pushing YM back over their own line for a pushover try for No8 Howarth, converted by stand-off Richards.
The Laund Hill side were soon back on the attack, however, and scored another well-worked try courtesy of left-winger Chris Beever, who added the finish to an incisive piece of running from Stead and new signing Chris Clarke.
This time Stead was unable to convert, while the visitors closed at half-time 12-10 with a Richards penalty.
From the re-start, YM came out strongly and a super Clarke break was carried on by Stead before he supplied full-back James Swift with a try-scoring pass, but it was ruled forward.
Undeterred, YM continued to press and Stead was again involved in setting up right winger Adam Ryder, who pinned back his ears to score a super try, converted by Stead.
Richards kept the Dalesmen in the hunt with another penalty, but YM looked to have the match sewn up when Ashley Spencer intercepted a pass and released Neil Pollock, who put in a strong drive before releasing Ryder who again sped to the tryline.
With Stead again converting for a 26-13 lead with only 13 minutes left, the result looked in the bag.
The visitors refused to buckle, however, and with their forwards recycling the ball, they rumbled on and forced their way over through flanker Kirkbride. Richards got the extras to bring them within six points before late events left YM very frustrated.
YMCA: Swift, Ryder, Clarke, Stead, Beever, Spencer, Wilson; Watson, Bell, Whitehead (Gregson 59), Housley (R), Scholes, Pollock (Housley S 70), Leone-Mazza (Lyon 65), Walker.