BARNSLEY RUFC stayed in Yorkshire League Three on the final day of the season and are now looking to reach the top level of the county league system.

The Shaw Laners began the day in the relegation zone but just one point from safety and within three of the four teams above them.

They knew that a victory would almost certainly keep them in the division, while a draw or even a defeat with a bonus points could save them.

The 50-5 win at home to Wheatley Hills took them up to ninth, three points and two places clear of the drop zone.

Coach Tom Kittrick said: “It’s been hanging over us all season but from November, if you look at our form, we deserved to stay up.

“To do it like we did was brilliant and it’s our best performance of the season so far.

“Everything just clicked.

“As soon as the full-time whistle went, we didn’t celebrate like we had won the league but there was relief around everyone.

“Deep down we were quietly confident because we were playing well.

“The lads have done so well since we came in and we’ve turned a big corner.”

Tom Hardwick scored a hat-trick of tries with Dave Reed adding two.

Chris Beck and Will Lowe were the other try-scorers. Joe Perry kicked six conversions and a penalty.

Barnsley had lost their first seven games of the season – having lost all 22 in Yorkshire Division Two last season including a number of forfeited matches as they struggled to field a team.

But they have won eight of their last 15, with two draws and five defeats.

Kittrick, who took over in November, said: “The culture was all wrong.

“Players weren’t staying after games.

“There was no team spirit.

“That was the first thing we needed to put right.

“We put a lot of time into that, did a lot of team-building stuff.

“We’ve had a buy-in from players, supporters and people around the club.

“Now it’s an environment people want to be part of.

“It showed on Saturday after the game that you couldn’t get in the bar.”

Barnsley are hoping to challenge for promotion next season.

Kittrick said: “With the players we are looking to bring in this summer and the players we have already, we want to be competing at the top end of the table next season.

“Division One is the ultimate long-term aim.”

Barnsley are now due to play in the Papa John’s Cup against Old Bedians at home on Saturday.

Meanwhile, promoted Wath were handed a walkover win in their final Yorkshire Division Two game at home to Leeds Corinthians.

North Ribblesdale won at third-placed Ripon so finished above Wath in first.

Wath now host Kesteven in the Papa John’s Cup on Saturday.