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DK 36 Rossendale 27
6:20pm Saturday 28th April 2012 in Dudley Kingswinford RFC
DUDLEY Kingswinford won promotion with a thrilling National League Three play-off victory over Rossendale.
The hosts fought back from a 22-14 half-time deficit to win a fantastic game which was in the balance right up until the final seconds.
Rossendale matched DK’s haul of five tries but the accurate kicking of Gareth Bown in blustery conditions proved crucial.
DK skipper Ollie Shakespeare was sin-binned in the closing stages but player-coach Jon Higgins’ try in stoppage time sealed the victory.
DK can now look forward to derby games with Stourbridge and Bromsgrove in National Two after another incredible season at Heathbrook.
In recent weeks wins have come easy for Higgins and Pete Knight’s men but they were made to work all the way by Rossendale, who savaged the home side’s lineout.
Ultimately DK were just able to find a little more quality when it mattered in a nail-biting finale.
Any thoughts of a relaxing afternoon for the home fans quickly disappeared as the visitors took the lead inside 90 seconds. A horrendous throw from Dan Shakespeare at a lineout close to the home line went straight to Dale’s Paddy Pole who had no problem walking the five metres to score.
But DK reacted in exactly the right manner and were ahead inside six minutes, Matt Farrington forcing his way through for the first of two tries. Bown added the conversion against the wind.
Back came Rossendale, Pole going over for his second try on ten minutes, though once again Steve Nutt was off target with the kick.
DK looked deadly when they had ball in hand but were finding the visiting defence a tough nut to crack. The game had almost reached the half hour mark by the time Farrington held off two tacklers to score his second and nudge the hosts back in front.
But once again Rossendale were able to match the blow and then deal another with two more tries before the break. DK were finding it impossible to stop the visiting pack once they sniffed the goal-line the scores by Ian Marshall and Tim Fourie were almost carbon copies.
DK may have expected an easier time of it with the wind at their backs at the second half but they again had to be patient, while unforced errors broke down attacks on more than one occasion.
Bown reduced the deficit with a penalty before the pressure finally told on the hour mark, with Simon Fletcher finishing a breathtaking move to put DK ahead 24-22.
But Rossendale always looked a threat and impressive scrum-half Jamie Albinson so nearly set up winger Danny Harrison with a pinpoint kick, before DK’s increased their advantage when Shaun Griffiths forced his way over.
But for once Bown was wide with his kick which kept the score within a converted try and when Shakespeare was sin-binned for an infringement at the lineout with seven minutes to go, Albinson finally broke through to put the visitors back in it.
Nutt’s missed conversion meant DK still held a two point advantage and it proved crucial.
Bown was wide with a penalty attempt but with the game deep into stoppage time, DK broke and Higgins went over to spark wild celebrations.