Head coach Iain Dixon praised his troops for their fight after 14-man West Hartlepool came within a whisker of defeating Pocklington in North One East’s top-of-the-table showdown.
West were within seconds of an incredible victory at Brinkburn, where they led the leaders 22-16 with the match in stoppage time.
But the hosts, who played half the match short-handed after Ryan Painter was red-carded, could not hold out and conceded a penalty try.
That seven-pointer snatched victory for Pocklington and clinched the title, but it was cruel for West.
West held on to second place, but only by a point with Penrith, in third, breathing down their necks.
Dixon’s side will sealh the promotion play-off place with two bonus point wins in their last two games but both fixtures are on the road, at Dinnington and Huddersfield YMCA.
“This was a superb effort by the lads against all the odds,” said Dixon.
“When we went down to 14 men at half time most people had already written us off, but we were magnificent and to lose to a contentious last minute penalty try was very hard to take.
“It was our best performance of the season and I could not have asked for any more.”
Pocklington opened the scoring with four minutes played thanks to a penalty from outside-half Matt Proctor.
The York side opted to kick, while West were happy to run and that counter-attacking mentality brought about a fantastic opening score.
Rob Thorn fielded a high box kick and set off on a mazy run through the midfield. Aaron Myers was in support and he showed enough pace to beat the covering defence and score a fine try.
Gavin Painter had no trouble with the conversion for a 7-3 lead.
The visitors had the upper hand without carving out too many scoring opportunities and West’s ferocious competition at the breakdown was frustrating them.
Proctor cut the gap with a successful penalty was off-target with a long-range kick after 31 minutes but penalties kept mounting up, so much so West flanker Lee Maddison was yellow carded with a little over five minutes left in the half.
West were soon down to 13 men when Ryan Painter was sent off by referee David Herdman after a confrontation after the whistle with Pocklington winger Tim Nixon, wo was sin-binned.
Gav Painter was unlucky with a long-range penalty early in the second half before Proctor’s boot sent Pocklington ahead.
A Gavin Painter penalty took West ahead again and almost straight from the re-start a counter-attack was rewarded again.
Zac Southern’s deft chip was deflected into the hands of Liam Checksfield and the young centre produced a sublime try, breaking tackles and using his pace to gp clear.
Painter again converted to make it 17-9.
Pocklington hit backl with Nixon touching down after cutting back against the drifting defence. Proctor converted to bring his side back within a point with 16 minutes remaining.
Thorn was instrumental in another great score after catching an ambitious long pass from Southern, just outside his own 22.
The winger took on the defence again, running hard and keeping two defenders guessing before setting Checksfield away up the left touchline and he could not be caught.
Painter’s well-struck conversion slid wide leaving Pocklington in the game at only six points behind.
But the turning point came with six minutes to go when Adam Coates was penalised and yellow carded.
It left West to play out the game with 13 men and also allowed Pocklington to peg trhe hosts back in the corner.
Heroic defence kept the visitors at bay until they conceded a five-metre scrum.
Pocklington appeared to knock on as the scrum edged forward but Mr Herdman allowed it to continue and awarded a penalty try, appearing to indicate the ball had been kicked out of the scrum deliberately.
It changed what would have been a difficult match-winning conversion into a kick in front of the posts and Proctor made no mistake to spark wild celebrations from the big visiting support.
There was time to re-start the game but Pocklington kicked clear to bring the contst to an end.
It was a bitterly disappointing finish for the West players who put so much into the game and deserved so much more.
West: Zac Southern, Luke Mallinson, Liam Checksfield, Peter Youll, Rob Thorn, Gavin Painter, Ryan Painter, Anth Carr, Andrew Rollins, Ross Wood, John Bunter, Dan Boatman (captain), Carl Miller, Lee Maddison, Aaron Myers. Subs used: Adam Coates, Joe Rafferty, Joe Willis.
Tries: Myers, Checksfield 2. Cons: G Painter 2. Pen: G Painter
Sin-bin: Maddison, Coates. Sent off: R Painter
Pocklington: Dan Elliot, Tim Nixon, Pete Massie, James Flint, Josh Britton, Matt Procter, Ben Rees (capt,) Chris Morton, Ben Stephenson, John-Paul Kelly, Archie Fothergill, Karl Durkin, Owen Jackson, Johnny Wood, Jack Holbrough. Subs used: Tom Peters, Johnny Borja, Joe Brown
Tries: Nixon, Penalty try. Cons: Proctor 2. Pens: Proctor 3
Referee: David Herdman (London)