A try either side of half time proved to be the key to victory for Thorne Marauders against Scarborough Pirates in this tight third verses fourth place encounter in the Yorkshire East Premier League game.
Clinton Richardson skipped through a lack-lustre defensive line before the break and Shaun Roberts exploited similar gaps after the interval, with scrum half Dave Chowins landing both goals.
Initial indication had the Pirates up for action with early big tackles being landed by Ali Sutton and Dan Ljazouli, sounding an early warning to the visitors.
On 12 minutes Jack Johnson chased a long ball and put in a big hit forcing a knock on in goal. Referee Karl Nagy blew for the offence before the ball had gone dead, with full back Harry Sleep diving on the still moving ball to touchdown. The home players were furious that Nagy had denied them the early lead.
The game re-started with a 10-metre scrum to the Pirates, who then were unable to take advantage of the set of six.
The match flowed from end-to-end with fast running rugby from both sides lifting an excited 250-strong crowd.
The advantage was to swing toward the visitors as firstly Johnson was put out of the game after a two-man tackle resulted in a broken rib for the Pirates centre and shortly after giant prop Alex Conlin was injured by a member of his own team.
After a period of sustained pressure, Thorne broke free with Wayne Rafferty going over, but referee Nagy had spotted an obstruction, ruling a penalty to the mighty-relieved Pirates.
Struggling to clear their own half, loose forward Jack Hakings kicked long to put the Marauders deep into their own half, with a put in on their own 10 metre line.
The Marauders went right and were met by the tackle of the afternoon from Oliver Battye, to the delight of the home fans.
With more confidence now coming into their game the Pirates began to make considerable ground with each player making 10-plus metres with ball in hand.
On 29 minutes a charge up the left saw Sean Outhart make 20 metres and centre Battye take three tackles to get within 10 metres. Stand-off Billy Parker reacted quickly at acting half to bury under legs to open the scoring. Jack Hakings despatched the goal to edge in front 6-0.
What should have been a spring board to build upon, did not happen, with Thorne coming straight back at the Pirates who seemed to relax on the early breakthrough.
The elusive 35-year-old centre Clinton Richardson danced and side stepped in between poor tacklers to strike on 39 minutes, with Chowins taking the easy goal, to draw level just before the break.
From the restart the Pirates were in dreamland. The Marauders broke up field with ease and set up the perfect platform to switch play to stand off Shaun Roberts who flew in under the posts. Chowins did the damage with the boot to lead for the first time at 12-6.
Coach Chris Keld threw on debutants Nicky Harrison and 17 year olds Zac Metcalfe and Alex Collins for their first Premier League starts, bringing fresh legs to the game.
Metcalfe drove in well, Harrison impressed with several line-breaking charges, but tiny winger Alex Collins proved inspirational to older and more experienced team mates around him with a superb performance.
Sutton, Dave Douthwaite and Dom Brining began to time the runs, as the Pirates pressed forward for the equalizer.
However in the focus to get back into the game, full back Sleep stepped into the line only to see Thorne scrum half Chowins intercept a long pass to gallop some 90 metres with Sleep, Collins and Tom Jenkinson unable to catch the nippy playmaker. He converted his own try to extend the lead to 18-6.
When the going gets tough, the tough get going, Parker and Hakings combined well to create several chances, but each glimmer of a chance was halted by the consistent and unpenetrable Thorne line.
Hooker Chris Backhouse grew with each attack and it was his quick thinking to revert play left, opening up a gap at last for the immense Sutton to go over out wide.
Hakings was unable to convert in the swirling wind, so the Pirates still required two scores to get the result they so desperately needed to stay in with a play off hope.
The early chargers kept powering in with both Outhart twins Lee and Shaun making good metres.
Two players carrying knocks, Dom Brining and Dan Stanley, continued to support the attackers, gathering good off loads and making further ground.
The visitors seemed happy to just keep the now rampaging Pirates at bay.
On a third successive set of six, Hakings launched a huge up and under, following up his own kick to cause winger Adam Pickles to misjudge the flight of the ball, with Jenkinson gathering to score under the posts. Harrison kicked the goal to reduce the deficit to just two points, with 12 minutes to play.
A wave of belief swept over the Pirates. The crowd sensed the game could be taken.
As time ticked down the ball went through hands quickly to debut boy Collins on the wing, he dived full length to touchdown in the corner to the ecstasy of his team mates and the cheering crowd.
This was to be short-lived as referee Nagy judged that Collins failed to ground the ball properly and awarded the restart to Thorne.
Undeterred the Pirates continued to press, but chance after chance went, with the Thorne players battling with every ounce of effort to remain ahead.
The travelling fans cheered as Nagy called time to a fantastic game of rugby league, that had both pace and passion throughout.
Match sponsors, the Firth Firmac Group selected Thorne scrum half Dave Chowins as man of the match for the visitors and new find Ali Sutton collected the award from company representative Jeff Wainwright for the Pirates.