WESTOE were within a whisker of throwing themselves a National Two North survival lifeline, losing 35-33 at Dudley Kingswinford.
The Shieldsmen, winless in three months now, at least took a pair of losing bonus points from their trip, but remain 19 points away from escaping the bottom three after Birmingham Solihull’s timely win at Hull.
Ex-Samoan international full-back Lome Fa’atau crossed for two of Westoe’s tries, Gareth Roberts, Scott Powell and Rob Adair scoring the others but conceding four in reply.
At the other end of the league, Darlington Mowden Park look to be out of the promotion race after a 17-6 loss at Luctonians left them 14 points away from the play-off place.
In National One, Blaydon strengthened their position at second place with a 28-14 triumph at Old Albanians, building a six-point gap over Rosslyn Park and Esher, who both lost.
Two Rob Bell tries in the opening 12 minutes were added to by Newcastle Falcons flyer Zach Kibirige and flanker Keith Laughlin.
The game of the day was at Tynedale, where the odd try in nine saw the home side claim a 38-34 win over Rosslyn Park.
Tom Bramwell’s injury-time run-in capped off an afternoon of helter-skelter scoring, full-back Chris Harris chipping and chasing for number one in only the first minute.
Alex Fieldhouse sped down the blindside for the second and then intercepted from half-way for a third as his side led 25-19 at the break.
A pair of tries from the league’s leading scorer Hugo Ellis in the opening three minutes of the second half cast an ominous shadow, but counter-attack scores from Hamish Smales and then Bramwell were enough to nick an absolute thriller.
West Hartlepool’s quest to remain afloat in National Three North took another tumble as they were beaten 29-8 by second-placed Harrogate, Percy Park losing 15-8 at home to Sandal and Billingham on the wrong end of a 32-18 score-line at Chester.
North One East’s top-versus-bottom clash went the way of the form book as Durham City were hammered 106-5 by Beverley, while in Durham and Northumberland One Alnwick’s 43-3 win over Hartlepool Rovers and a defeat for second-placed Guisborough extended the gap at the top to eight points.
In rugby league, meanwhile, Gateshead Thunder ended their pre-season campaign with a 42-22 win at fellow Championship One side Hemel Stags.