This was a very good, rather than an epic Powergen play-off encounter, but nevertheless Cleckheaton's elevation to the National Leagues has been in the making since 1999.

"It's been five years, but it's job done," said their warm and tired but delighted director of rugby John Bentley, who has overseen the club's progress from the regional leagues.

"Things may have happened in previous years, but we have always been pushing towards this. Those who played on Saturday were the lucky 18, but there have been numerous others who have played their part on the field who haven't had the chance to play in this match.

"And we haven't forgotten them, or the people who have put in the work behind the scenes, such as Alan Bentley."

Like Steve Burnhill before him, Bentley junior hasn't forgotten one of the main planks of Cleckheaton Rugby Union Football Club, however.

He added: "We still want to turn out four sides a week and we won't be losing that traditional rugby club ethos."

A crowd of some 900 basked in the sunshine and watched a contest that was tense for 70 of its 80 minutes.

And nowhere was the tension more keenly felt than when the North Division One runners-up had battered the line of the Midlands Division One runners-up for 25 minutes without scoring. "That was a little bit of a concern," confessed Bentley.

The closest they came was when the indomitable John Dudley had a try disallowed in the corner in the fourth minute. Some spectators afterwards said: "That was a try you know, he planted the ball down on the line." Others who were just as close, however, were adamant that it wasn't a try.

Kettering fly half Damian Whales was then wide with a drop-goal attempt before a 21st-minute breakout by Bentley and skipper Oliver Akroyd ended with Bentley's pass going forward, but finally the Blue Boys' line was breached eight minutes later.

Flanker Lance Hamilton and hooker Steven Bishop were involved early in the move, Dudley drove forwards, and Hamil-ton was on hand again to give Bentley the chance to score, Green converting.

Centre Paul Gibson rupturing his Achilles tendon in the 35th minute didn't do Cleckheaton any favours for his replacement Tim Jones put in a neat grubber kick down the right flank which was collected by flying winger Tom Coles and his inside pass put Jones in, Whales converting deep into injury time to level matters at 7-7.

Bishop's clever chip and chase four minutes into the second half put Cleckheaton back on the attack, and they made it count.

Kettering were forced to scramble the ball into touch and Dudley drove on from the line-out for prop Stephen Johnson to score. Green's conversion made it 14-7, and they then tightened up their scrum by replacing Paul Turner with the in-form Carl Mason.

Cleckheaton then had a succession of kicks charged down - drop-goal attempts by scrum half Julian Chard and fly half Mark Sales, as well as clearance kicks - before a Sales break earned Cleck a 56th-minute penalty, which Green landed.

The hosts were penalised from the kick-off, however, and Whales was accurate with the kick to bring the margin back to seven points, Chris Quinn soon replacing Sales. Kettering's backs then had Cleckheaton hearts in mouths with a thrilling attack which ended with Coles being shoved into touch, and the tension wasn't helped by referee Ian Robinson (Liverpool Society) making decisions that baffled hosts and visitors alike.

Nabeel Salama replaced the terrier-like Matt Terry in the 69th-minute, and three minutes later Cleck breathed a lot easier when Green landed a long-range penalty to make it 20-10.

Kettering threw on their last two replacements with three minutes left, but another Green penalty was the only further score.

The victory means that Cleckheaton now join the Bees in National League Three North. "That's four points for the Bees then," laughed Bentley. But knowing his capacity for recruitment you wouldn't put a lot of money on it.