Glory hunting Wetherby have edged closer to a cup final day out at Twickenham without even kicking a ball.
The Rugby Football Union announced on Wednesdat that Yarm have pulled out of the competition along with fellow Northumberland and Durham Division Three side Prudhoe and Stocksfield.
Wetherby were due to start their National Junior Vase campaign with a trip to Middlesbrough-based Yarm this Saturday before taking on Prudhoe at Grange Park later this month.
The pair’s withdrawal now means Wetherby will go through to the national quarter-finals as the representative for the North East.
They will now face the best of the North West in the last eight and the winner of that clash will then battle against the top side from the Midlands for a place at the 80,000-seater national stadium.
The Reds qualified for the National Junior Vase by winning the Yorkshire Silver Trophy last season, beating Northallerton in the final.
Northallerton represented the North in national ranks last season and were the beaten finalists at Twickenham.
“It’s going to be a great chance to prove ourselves on a national level,” said Wetherby captain Danny Warden.
Yarm’s decision to pull out of Saturday’s contest also means Wetherby are guaranteed to reach the feat of two years unbeaten.
Wetherby stretched their winning run to 46 matches on Saturday with a battling victory over Leeds Modernians.
The match was a league and Yorkshire Silver Trophy double header, which Wetherby came from behind at the break to maintain their 51-game undefeated run.
The hosts put up a stubborn fight but it was the conditions which gave the Reds the biggest scare, with snow blizzards making handling difficult.
Despite falling three points behind in a low-scoring first half, Wetherby responded in the second half to claim victory 17-3 and reach the quarter finals.
Warden said: “Without a doubt it was the worst conditions we’ve had. It was horrific, you were cold to the bone.
“With all things considered, we were pleased to get over the line. It’s difficult in those situations to show off any skill sets so it became a case of putting the ball up your jumper in the forwards.
“There were points in the game were you just couldn’t see the ball coming at you.
“It could have been a bit of a banana skin but we managed to grind out a victory. It did feel rewarding when we finished because all the lads dug in.”
With a potential trip to Twickenham on the cards, Warden said selection headaches have been at their most prominent at Grange Park over the last few weeks.
And the captain was grateful to the spirit shown by dropped players who have responded to help the club’s second string top their Merit table. The Crusaders beat Castleford 3rds 29-0 on Saturday.
Warden added: “Rather than taking their bat and ball home, they are putting a good shift in for the second team and making it impossible for the management to ignore them.”
“It’s been great to see players reacting positively and putting their name back in the hat for shirt in the first team.”