SO near and yet so far. Liverpool St Helens came within a whisker of promotion to National Three North in a pulsating North Division play off at Percy Park in North Shields.

Trailing 18-12 and with two minutes left on the clock the Moss Laners launched one final attack from deep in their own half moving to within five yards of the Percy Park line when the ball was agonisingly spilled.

The chance was gone and so was the game.

As the ball was kicked dead nearly 500 jubilant Geordies celebrated victory.

This was an unfortunate ending to a gutsy effort from LSH who had dominated possession and had spent most of the afternoon going forward only to be undone, as in the regular season, by handling errors and mistakes, swiftly and clinically punished by an organised Percy Park outfit..

Park were awarded two early penalties both kicked by full back Phil Morse followed by a try from Ali Blair to give them a 13-0 after 23 minutes.

LSH, for whom Dave Cunliffe and Alex McClurg were outstanding, responded just before half time when McClurg broke through the Park defence to score under the posts, converted by Simon Worsley, in his last game for LSH before hanging up his boots. However, disaster struck within seconds of the restart when, as LSH players frantically scrambled around, the kick off bounced first one way then the other and then into opposition hands for winger Howard Stock to run in and score.

LSH hit back in the 56th minute with a fine move leading to a typical Dave Cunliffe crash over try from 10 metres out before their golden chance came and went in a dramatic finale.

Congratulations to Percy Park, particularly after their last minute loss in last year’s play off, and well done to LSH who let no-one down last Saturday, they couldn’t have given more.