DEWSBURY CELTIC battled their way into NCL Division Two as a spell of 30 unanswered points saw them triumph over Heworth in the play-off final.
The York side had home advantage and Celtic looked up against it when 10-0 down after a sapping first half-hour.
But they scored five tries in an extraordinary period either side of half-time to turn the match around and escape the bottom tier of the National Conference after three seasons.
Coach Brendan Sheridan said that he was “super proud” of his team for their achievement in clinching promotion.
On the match he said: “We had a lot of defending to do in the first 30 minutes. To only be ten points behind is a credit to the guys’ attitude and character to defend the line.
“We rolled our sleeves up, scored just before half-time, and then the following set made a statement defensively against them.
“In the second half we just blew them away for the next 20 minutes, and we didn’t look like relinquishing the lead.”
Both sides put in a strong defensive effort for the first quarter of an hour before Heworth gained the ascendancy with two tries in the space of three minutes.
Winger Jake Atkinson was halted close to the line but George Elliott went straight over from dummy-half on the next play for the first points of the game.
That was soon followed by a second try as a tricky James Morland bomb was allowed to bounce and Liam Watling and Liam Jackson combined to return the ball to Morland and finish, as Elliott added the extras for a 10-0 lead.
Only with three minutes of the first half remaining did Celtic get on the board for the first time. Full-back Paul Foulstone went over for the first of his two tries, with George Senior converting to reduce the deficit to four points at half-time.
That try gave them real belief heading into the break, and it showed in a remarkable first 16 minutes of the second half in which they scored four tries.
Foulstone got on the end of a move for his second before centre Jermaine Akaidere built on their new-found lead.
Senior got in on the try-scoring act and Akaidere touched down for his second, with Senior converting three of the four quick-fire tries to make it 28-10 and put one Celtic foot in Division Two.
Heworth gave themselves some hope when Billy Sturdey went into the corner, and an Elliott penalty then reduced the difference to two scores with Tom Bottomley sent in the sin bin for the Green and Whites for kicking.
Celtic held out amidst further pressure though, and Senior’s late penalty goal made sure of victory for the jubilant visitors.
After a long 28-match league season which began in February, Sheridan believes their early start to pre-season made a big difference, and credited his players for trusting in his methods.
“The November start has paid off,” he said. “With the early start, we knew we’d probably have a mid-season dip but we’d kick on again come the back end of the year.
“It’s all credit to the guys for buying into everything that I’ve done, so all the pats on the back must go to the players.”
The team now have a tour of Australia to look forward to with two matches at the end of October and beginning of November.