DEWSBURY RAMS have lost in the semi-final of the Championship Shield for the second consecutive year - this time 36-22 at the hands of Bradford Bulls.
After a delayed kick off due to excessive queue’s outside the turnstiles at Odsal, Bulls star Alex Mellor scored a brace and provided a platform for his side to lay the ghost of Dewsbury, who have haunted them on more than one occasion this season.
The Rams have enjoyed two last-gasp victories over West Yorkshire rivals Bradford this season, dumping the Odsal side out of the Challenge Cup before contributing to Smith's men failing to make the Qualifiers with a dramatic penalty after the hooter in the Championship.
The Bulls had scored 208 points in their previous three home games, hitting the 80-point mark twice including the demolition of next week’s opponents Sheffield, while the their rivals ensured their place in the semi-finals by winning their last two matches.
For the first time this season the hosts fielded the same 17 in consecutive games and the resulting cohesion was quickly evident.
Dane Chisholm gave the hosts the lead after less than three minutes following an opportunistic long pass from hooker Adam O’Brien.
Lewis Charnock added the first of four goals from seven attempts from the touchline.
The Rams then gave as good as they got until Mellor tenaciously fended off a challenge from Dom Speakman to run in Bradford’s second try from over 25 metres out.
Following a let-off, when Jay Pitts just failed to reach out across the line, the Rams burst up the other end and Andy Kain scored on the run-around with Matt Groat, although Tom Hemingway amazingly missed the simplest of conversions.
Dale Morton was denied a try by a forward pass before Mellor extended his side’s advantage with another forceful charge, this time from much nearer the line.
A minute before the break, Ethan Ryan broke clear down the left with Kris Welham up in support on the inside to claim his 10th try in the Qualifiers.
Trailing by 16 points and with little to lose, the Rams got off to a dream start in the second half when some crisp handling on the left resulted in former Bulls winger Jason Crookes touching down in the corner.
Shane Grady landed a fine conversion but the Bulls responded immediately as Danny Williams darted onto a Kieren Moss kick to score.
Moss then benefited from an incisive Mellor break and, with Charnock converting both tries to extend the lead to 22 points, the hosts seemed safe to look forward to extending their season through to next Sunday.
But Guzdek grabbed a scrappy try back for Dewsbury on the hour.
Williams thought he had crossed for his second after a tap penalty but, following complaints by several Rams, the officials insisted the Bulls took it again.
Toby Adamson claimed further consolation with the Rams’ final try of 2016 with Grady finishing with three goals from as many attempts.
Finally, Ryan scooped up a loose ball on halfway and just made it across the line despite a tenacious last-gasp ankle tap by Guzdek. Charnock struck the upright with the final kick of the game.
Bulls boss Rohan Smith said: “There were a lot of really strong performers today and the scoreline probably didn’t do them justice.”
Dewsbury coach Glenn Morrison commented: “It’s been a long year, a lot of things haven’t gone our way. We fought hard but we are disappointed because we know we can play better.”