Harrogate Pythons’ mini-revival came to an end when they lost out 32-24 on the road at Hemsworth in Yorkshire Three.
Dan Bird’s men went into Saturday’s game on the back of two consecutive victories and led for a large chunk of the contest, only for the hosts to register two tries in the final seven minutes to snatch the spoils.
The Station View outfit welcomed Gareth Drane, Andy Quirk and Ross Fallenstein back from long-term injury lay-offs and began brightly.
An offside offence near halfway did however lead to Hemsworth taking a fifth-minute lead through a long-range penalty, but the Pythons were soon back on the front foot.
Having gained good field position courtesy of a kick to the corner from a penalty, the visitors then won a scrum and Drane broke to the blind side before putting Fallenstein over in the corner for a 5-3 lead after 15 minutes.
Another penalty goal saw Hemsworth edge back in front before Quirk’s sliced clearance led to a first try of the day for the hosts and an 11-5 advantage.
Undeterred, the Pythons came again and when Fallenstein once again kicked to the corner a clean catch at the line-out by Hugh Tatlow saw Fallenstein unleash a cross-kick which Quirk collected and flicked up for Jon Pickard to dot down.
Fallenstein added the extras for a 12-11 lead on the half-hour-mark.
A perfect start to the second period then saw ‘Gate extend their lead, Halpin returning a home kick and linking with Tatlow who again broke through the Hemsworth defence and put Quirk over in the corner.
Ollie Wheatley was then held up over the line as the Pythons continued to press, but they were not to be denied and drove their hosts backwards at a scrum allowing George Wilton to apply the finishing touch for 24-11 in the 55th minute.
A quickly-taken tap-penalty resulted in Hemsworth pulling a score back just after the hour-mark, but with seven minutes remaining, Bird’s men still led by six points.
Disaster was to strike, however, and the hosts got their noses in front at 25-24 through a converted try, then added another from the last play of the game to deny ‘Gate even a losing bonus point.
Defeat leaves the Pythons 11th in the league standings, just two place above the relegation zone but as one of a trio of sides currently with 27 points to their name.