Wath Brow have earned the National Conference Premier Division’s leaders’ shield after the regular season ended at the weekend.

They were crowned “the Minor Premiers” after a strange final Saturday when they were the only winners in the top four. It means they will have a weekend off, before facing the challenge of West Hull on September 21 in the qualifying semi-final. They clinched top spot with a 22-14 home win over local rivals Kells who had ended the campaign bottom, bound for Division One next season.

In fact already confirmed for the drop with only three wins all season Kells put up a gutsy fight against their high-flying neighbours, holding a 14-12 half-time lead.

Ellison Holgate had given the Hornets the lead on 12 minutes, but Kells fought back to lead 14-6. Tony Burns and Tyrone Dalton both scored tries, converted by Grant Gainford while Ross Gainford put over a penalty.

Wath Brow needed some inspiration and got it just before half-time when Curtis Teare went in for a try which King converted. Hornets coach Ian Rooney must have had some harsh words at half-time because Hornets did not concede a point in the second period.

It was really tough going and it took until the 66th minute for Hornets to get themselves ahead. Karl Dixon went in for the try, which King goaled but, at 18-14, it was still anyone’s game. Defending well, Wath Brow finishing strongly and sealed victory three minutes from the end with a try by Cole Walker-Taylor.

West Hull lost 18-16 at Siddal, missing the opportunity to finish top; reigning champions Hunslet Club Parkside finished third after losing 24-20 at Rochdale Mayfield while fourth-placed Thatto Heath went down 24-8 at Underbank Rangers.

Egremont missed out on the play-offs, finishing seventh, but even a win at Lock Lane in their final game wouldn’t have got them into sixth. They lost 23-18 in Castleford, their fifth successive defeat to make it a disappointing end to a season which had seen then top of the league after a month.

Lock Lane, who were ending a run of six straight defeats, had come through well in the second half after the sides had turned around at 12-12.

Michael Ellwood and Stephen Fox had scored first-half tries, both converted by coach John Paul Brocklebank but Lock Lane came back level before the break. When they went 18-12 ahead, it looked ominous for Egremont and a field goal gave them an extra cushion. Although Ellwood scored his second try, converted by Brocklebank, Lock Lane finished strongly to win.