Morley produced a spirited second-half fight-back but finished empty handed in a 22-14 home defeat by National League 3 North’s third-placed Sheffield Tigers.
The Maroons faced a tough challenge from a side that needed a five-point victory to stay in contention with Sandal – 24-8 victors over Wirral – and Sale for the title.
Sheffield ran in three tries to rack-up a 17-0 half-time lead with a dominant display.
Morley hit back after the interval with prop Ben Bell and winger Karl Bradshaw scoring tries converted by stand-off Mark Chester.
Sheffield were in no mood to damage their title chances, however, and duly grabbed their fourth try with an interception, leaving their strong defence to see out the game comfortably.
In National 2 North, Otley handed Stockport their first win since November, even though the Cheshire side were unable to score a point in the second half.
A spirited display from Stockport in the first 40 minutes set the tone for their success with scrum-half Will Batterbury jinking his way through for two converted tries, to the delight of the home support.
Winger Chris Tennuci joined in the scoring to leave Stockport with 19 points and in response Otley were only able to muster a try by second row Stephen Costello, improved by skipper Stephen Depledge. After the break Otley looked to increase the game’s intensity but Stockport’s defence was more solid than it has been all season. When Depledge broke through to score and added the conversion there were hopes that the resistance would crumble but such optimism proved unfounded as the hosts stayed strong to complete their 19-14 victory.
Two talented sets of backs created a real treat for the crowd at Chester as visitors Harrogate edged a tremendous encounter 22-17.
But while it was the backs who caught the crowd’s eye, it was, in fact, Harrogate’s well-organised defence and superior scrummaging that won them the day (not to mention the vocal touring Harrogate Under-14s who had played Chester earlier in the day!).
A self-converted Callum Irvine try and another for Kerry Wood gave Harrogate a slender 12-10 advantage.
Irvine increased the lead on the back of Chester sin-binnings, then Willem Enslin powered over the line.
Irvine’s excellent touchline conversion made it 22-10, but Chester have mounted several spectacular recoveries and Saturday was no exception, though Harrogate held out for the win.