SEDGLEY Tigers coach Geoff Roberts was full of praise for his players' efforts despite a potentially damaging one-point defeat at promotion rivals Sale.
A second-half rally that included a stand-out try from prop-forward Harri Greville in his final game for Sedgley looked to have given them a priceless win.
But the home side came back to score two late penalties and snatch a 25-24 victory.
Sedgley remain third in National Two North despite the defeat but are now eight points behind second-placed Sale and 11 adrift of leaders Caldy.
Roberts, however, remained upbeat after what was a titanic tussle.
"The game had everything you could wish for from a derby match," said Roberts.
"It could have fallen either way.
"Both teams put everything they had into it, they almost ran themselves into a standstill.
"It was a brilliant effort and must have been an exciting game to watch for the neutral – unfortunately we're not neutral.
"So naturally, I came off disappointed at the end, but I couldn't have been disappointed with the lads, they played a great game."
Sale dominated possession in the opening half and went into the break 19-10 up, scoring three tries in the first 40 minutes from close range as their forward pack put pressure on the Sedgley line.
But the visitors hung in with a penalty try and a penalty, and came out all guns blazing in the second half.
"We didn't have a lot of possession in the first half and Sale played the more text book rugby," added Roberts.
"They kicked well for position and while we managed to hold them up on our line, they eventually capitalised when we fluffed a lineout.
"Sale went on to score another two tries, one of those a real forward's try, but it was a completely different story after the break.
"I really thought we were going to do it."
Johnny Matthews ran in a second converted try for Sedgley before Greville put them in front, finishing off from 30 metres after backing up Matt Riley following a run from his own half.
"That would have been a brilliant way to win it," said Roberts. "Harri has only been with us for just over a year, but he has been an important player for us.
"He has a cap for Wales in rugby league so is real quality and we will miss him.
"Harri works for Kelloggs and moved up to Manchester from South Wales with his work, but he has now been offered a position out in Australia and this was his final game with us.
"His try was certainly the most memorable moment in the game, coming from a really lovely line break.
"But sadly, the scoring did not end there. Harri's try opened up a five-point lead but Sale got a couple of penalties, the last of which was five minutes from time.
"We still had our own chances to win it, but Matt Riley missed a drop-goal attempt."
The bad news did not end there for Sedgley, who lost Steve Collins to a hamstring injury and he is not expected to be fit for Saturday's game at home to second-bottom Wharfedale.