Otley snatched the bragging rights with a 29-13 Yorkshire derby win over Sandal, ending a run of three straight defeats.
Sandal knew an away success would go a long way towards cementing their top-four position. However, Otley, who had not won since mid-November, were clearly up for the challenge and edged a competitive first half.
Tries for the backs from James Wood, Henry Roberts and James White and two conversions by fly-half Nick Coupland earned Otley 19 points in the first half. Sandal were guilty of missed tackles for the tries but stayed in touch with two Greg Wood penalties and a try at the end of the half by centre Dave Martin. The second half was an equally keenly contested affair but again it was Otley who created the better opportunities, full-back Roberts and winger Wood breaking away for tries to end Sandal’s hopes.
Harrogate’s front-row problems were at the root of all their troubles at Tynedale, who ran out 25-10 victors.
Harry Barnard out-paced the defence to open the scoring with his ‘maiden’ try. Sustained forward pressure led to a second try for Guy Coser after a Tynedale penalty. Two yellow-card offences helped Tynedale nose ahead 11-10 before half-time, while wind advantage worked in the hosts’ favour in a second half that also included a red card for ’Gate’s Tom White.
Ilkley were left to reflect on a disappointing end to 2015 after a 10-6 home reverse by Lymm resulted in a fifth successive defeat in National 3 North.
Nine points separated the sides going into the game and Ilkley knew that success on their own turf would go a long way towards setting a platform for the New Year. However, a tight game ensued and the hosts ultimately lost out to a cruel late blow. A physical start put Ilkley on the front foot, only for turnover ball to cost them a penalty. They hit back with a kick of their own from Joe Rowntree and went on to dominate the half but just couldn’t break the line. A similar story unfolded after the interval but Lymm managed to sneak through for a converted try with only minutes remaining.
Ilkley pulled back a bonus point with a second Rowntree penalty but time ran out.
Morley provided the perfect response to their first defeat of the season by seeing off Percy Park 50-15 at home in their last game of the year in North 1 East.
Beaten by fellow promotion chasers Doncaster Phoenix last time out, The Maroons made amends. Full-back Dante van der Merwe crossed for a try in the first minute, followed by further scores from centre Richard Knowles, winger Karl Bradshaw and Van der Merwe again, alongside two Mark Chester conversions, to make it 24-3 after 17 minutes.
Inside-centre Scott Glynn added a fifth on 21 minutes, again converted by skipper Chester, before the visitors pulled one back to make it 31-8 at the break. Flanker Will Smyth scored and then hooker Ben Bell became the club’s leading scorer by adding his ninth of the campaign on 50 minutes.
Scrum-half Kenny Sewell wrapped things up after the hour with Percy Park getting a consolation four minutes from time.
Elsewhere, Wharfedale narrowly failed to build on their victory over Hull Ionians when they went down 32-28 against Fylde in National One.