THE dream scenario of having Bradford & Bingley, Bradford Salem, Baildon and Keighley in the same division next season so nearly came to pass.

Bradford & Bingley (relegated from Regional Two North East), Keighley (not promoted from Counties One Yorkshire despite finishing second) and Bradford Salem (sixth in Counties One Yorkshire) will play in the seventh tier in 2023-24.

However, Baildon, despite defeating Yarnbury 81-7 to finish level on 86 league points with Harrogate Pythons, will remain in Counties Two Yorkshire next term because Pythons, who defeated champions Wensleydale 30-29, finished second to Baildon’s third because of a draw, both sides having gained 17 wins.

A good crowd at Jenny Lane, including supporters from Shay Lane, Wagon Lane and Rose Cottage, witnessed what turned out to be a 13-try romp for Baildon, but their director of rugby Jake Duxbury was more proud than frustrated at his side’s 2022-23 campaign.

He said: “The Pythons result is a kicker for us but congratulations to Harrogate. We have played them twice this season and they are a great team to play against and they deservedly go up for what they have done this year.

“We wish them all the best for next season, and hopefully in a couple of years’ time we will get some more games against them.

“You could look at our match at Wath this season and think ‘what if?’, and it (Counties One Yorkshire) would have been a tasty league to get into, but then you could look back four years and we were fighting against relegation in Yorkshire Division Three.

“Just look at our progress. We got into Yorkshire Two a lot earlier than we thought we would, and the players – both first and second team – have been sensational across the board this year.

“It has been the best league position that we have ever finished in as a first team and the second XV have won more games than they have ever done in a season so we will look back with pride on our season, start to build for next season and have another tilt.

“At the start of the season we sat down as a leadership group and said that we wanted to improve on last year, be in a promotion fight, score more points than anyone (858 compared to next-best, fourth-placed Wath’s 697) and play an attacking brand of rugby, which is difficult in the depths of winter, and I think that we have done that.

“We have left spectators with a smile on their face, so we have to be proud of what we have achieved.”

Duxbury added: “All of the squad – all 30 of them that have played first-team rugby and the second XV – have played with a smile on their faces and, to a man, they have stood up to be counted.

“Our aim was to win the game against Yarnbury, and I just wanted the team to go out and enjoy themselves. They did that and we have put a marker down for next season.”

Yarnbury, missing 11 players due to Easter week holidays and resting some for Papa Johns Community Cup next Saturday, had won their last seven matches, but overall had not managed to beat any of the top four.

They included three colts (sometimes they have picked five), one of whom, centre Mason Baker, started with the other two on the bench, and stuck at their task but were 38-0 behind at half-time, having played downhill.

First-half tries in this derby came from rangy winger Will Eastell (3), Duxbury, prop Mo Gaibee and replacement Ollie Murphy, with Duxbury adding four conversions.

The pick of Eastell’s three tries was a 70-metre interception effort, but none was more popular than Gaibee’s swallow dive over the whitewash.

Baildon even coped with a yellow card for lock Harry Walker, whose lazy-arm tackle was a third swift infringement after referee Mark Smith (Central Yorkshire Society) caught him offside and off his feet.

There was good news from Pythons, who were trailing Wensleydale 10-9 at the interval, but that match ultimately ended in disappointment for Baildon.

There was no let-up after half-time up the Jenny Lane slope for Yarnbury’s men in blue and yellow as further tries came from Duxbury (2), flankers Harrison Strauss and Conor Wood, Eastell (2) and replacement Ben Shaw, with Duxbury adding a further four conversions.

Plucky Yarnbury, did, however, avoid being nilled with a try in the 71st minute via replacement Jem Windridge-France, with fly half Max Lee tagging on the goal.