Celtic’s biggest test of the season against the unbeaten Underbank ended in a 2410 defeat as they only managed to get over the line once before and after the break.
The visitors were indebted to standoff Neil Barrett who finished with 16 points, his goal kicking in the second period, as Celtic gave away penalties, keeping the hosts at arm’s length.
The first half was a close encounter played at a blazing pace but it was the home team who broke the deadlock in the 15th minute with Josh West racing away 30 metres before releasing the ball to Tom Kilroy who sped the last 20 metres to score in the corner, Niki Crabtree converting from near the touchline.
Dewsbury nearly scored again eight minutes later when Alex Walmsley broke away with Tom Norris backing up only for the ball to be knocked out of his hands.
Rangers levelled in the 25th minute with Alex Chatterton breaking away and putting Rob Joyce in 10 metres from the corner, Barrett goaling.
In response, the visitors had the chance to take an interval lead when Richard Aka sprinted down the wing only to be brilliantly tackled in to touch at the corner flag to leave it 6all at half time.
Underbank, playing downhill in the second half, took full advantage of the slope, Barrett knocking over his first penalty from 20 metres out.
Celtic thought that Eddie Kilroy had scored in the corner from 20 metres out, the touch judge giving the try but the referee disallowing it.
Just before the hour, Tom Kilroy spilt the ball in a heavy tackle allowing Adam Ryder to pick up and canter clear to the posts, Barrett goaling.
Barrett then took full advantage of some lax defending to score at the side of the posts and added the extras.
Two penalties in quick succession knocked over by the Rangers pivot made it 246 but a minute from time Celtic’s determination paid off with Eddie Kilory finally getting across in the corner. Niki Crabtree’s conversion attempt was blown wide of the post to deny the home side a bonus point.
The defeat means Celtic stay in second spot but are now nine points off the pace. Next up, a potential ‘bananaskin’ clash with the Nottingham Outlaws.
CELTIC: Tom Kilroy, Jason Muranka, Liam Walmsley, Eddie Kilroy, Dave Townend, Josh West, Niki Crabtree, Alex Walmlsey, Joe Waters, Elliott Smith, Tom Norris, Jamie Milburn, Dom Byrne. Subs: Danny Lee, Liam Edwards, Matthew Bailey, Josh Sykes.
Tries: T Kilroy (15), E Kilroy (78).
Goals: Crabtree 1/2
RANGERS: Will Midgley, Courtney Allette, Rob Joyce, Adam Ryder, Richard Aka, Neil Barrett, Alex Chatterton, Chris Geoghegan, Adam Carroll, Sam Dalby, Sam Housley, Craig Williams, Lee St Hilaire. Subs: Stephen Berry, Jack Mitchell, Sam Cummings, Carl Leach.
Tries: Joyce (25), Ryder (58), Barrett (62).
Goals: Barrett 6/6
Man of the Match: Will Midgley (Rangers)
Half time: 66
Referee: Paul Stockman