There was double delight for Amber Valley RUFC 1sts on Saturday as they beat local rivals Belper 12-5 to book their place in the Derbyshire Shield Final.
Additionally, it was confirmed that promotion from Midlands Four East (North) had been achieved after the scheduled league opposition Keyworth couldn’t field a side, so Valley were awarded the five points and can’t now be caught by third-placed Ashfield.
Valley have already beaten Belper twice this season but both games were tough and tight affairs and this was to be no different.
Both teams looked to play some rugby and this contributed to an exciting game, although littered with errors from both sides as the pressure of a semi-final took its toll.
Valley opened brightly Shaun Dowdall working good field position into the opposition half. A set piece move down the blindside of a scrum with the ball moving through Ben Parker and Lee Chapman to give winger Lee Steemson the space to round his opposite number and touch down for a converted try.
Belper were soon on the attack and Valley’s defence was stretched on several occasions but two try saving tackles from winger Arron Robinson helped to keep the visitors at bay.
Dowdall, who was having a good day with ball in hand and with kicks in open play stroked a penalty attempt just wide as Valley looked to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
Valley knew that their execution had to be better in the second half if they were to close out the game and they again had opportunities to put ther result beyond doubt. Robinson was kicking himself after a great 50m run ended as he stumbled with the line in sight.
With the referee deeming the ball held up, Adrian Head was able to ground the ball from the resulting scrum.
Belper hit back almost immediately with a well worked try out wide, with the conversion and a later penalty attempt missed the score was kept at 12-5.
Belper were gifted an opportunity with a speculative kick that was spilt backwards into the in goal line but the referee deemed the ball had been knocked on in the act of touching down.
Duran Wardale kept up his good form again with a solid defensive effort and some good breaks.
Valley will now play either Chesterfield or Buxton in the cup final on May 5.
Valley have two more league games to go, starting with Saturday’s home game against Tupton (3pm).