The relief was palpable as the exhausted Hull KR players saluted the travelling fans after learning that London Broncos' defeat to Wakefield Trinity had kept them in Super League.
While survival celebrations are a curious thing, after months of anxiety and uncertainty the release of emotions evident at the AJ Bell Stadium is only natural.
KR’s ability to handle pressure had been questioned in the wake of their latest defeat to a relegation rival but they have developed a habit of bouncing back under Tony Smith and they dragged themselves off the canvas one last time against in-form Salford Red Devils.
In the end, the fact they lost 17-16 in golden point was largely inconsequential as news filtered through that London had gone down 19-10 at Belle Vue.
The Broncos went into ‘Judgement Day’ bottom on points difference and that proved to be crucial as they dropped back into the Championship.
Their win at Craven Park last week set up a four-way shootout for survival but they could not lift one last time and Rovers owe a debt of gratitude to Trinity.
The Robins can now plan for 2020 with confidence, although Smith is under no illusions how much work needs to be done in the off-season after staying up by the skin of their teeth.
Danny McGuire did not go out on a high but he can move into his off-field role safe in the knowledge that Hull KR will be in Super League next season.
Rovers welcomed back Adam Quinlan, Kane Linnett and George Lawler but the loss of Mitch Garbutt felt like a huge blow to their chances of ending Salford’s seven-match winning run.
There were sighs when Ryan Shaw knocked the ball on coming out of his own end – similar to his mistake against London last week – but the closest the Red Devils got to opening the scoring was when Jackson Hastings was held up over the line.
KR had barely been in Salford’s half but that man McGuire poked his head through the line, got a lovely offload away and Kyle Trout kept his composure to give Josh Drinkwater a clear run to the line.
The noise from the away end was something to behold and the volume increased as Shaw added the extras from in front.
Salford were comfortably winning the territory battle but Rovers were muscling up well in defence and limiting the hosts to half-chances.
The Red Devils had a golden opportunity to get back into the game when McGuire was sin-binned for a professional foul as Hastings took a quick tap on the 20 after defusing a poor kick from Drinkwater.
Rovers finally buckled under the pressure but it needed a huge slice of fortune for Salford to break through.
A poor pass went to ground and two KR players dived towards the loose ball only for Hastings to pick it up and take advantage of the numerical advantage on their left to put Jake Bibby in.
Krisnan Inu was wide with his touchline conversion and then gave Shaw an invitation he wasn’t going to pass up from a penalty for dissent.
Craig Hall missed a drop-goal attempt on the stroke of half-time but Rovers were on track for survival with a four-point advantage and Wakefield leading London 8-0.
McGuire returned just after the interval and he was soon behind his own sticks after Tui Lolohea touched down from a scrappy kick following a break by Niall Evalds.
Inu somehow hit the post from just to the right of the uprights but made no mistake from a penalty after Rovers failed to clear the ruck.
That put Salford ahead for the first time yet that only served to spark the Robins back into life.
There appeared to be little on when Weller Hauraki got the ball on halfway but he got a nice pass away to Shaw and he kept his cool to allow Linnett to finish in front of the jubilant travelling fans.
Shaw was on target again to make it 14-10 and after a period where Rovers had to dig deep, the winger knocked over a simple penalty to take the visitors’ lead out to six points.
But it was all hands to the pump in the dying minutes as Salford laid siege to the KR line and they eventually cracked, Joey Lussick burrowing his way over after evading the challenge of a flying Robbie Mulhern.
Inu knocked over the straightforward conversion to take the match into extra time and the teams felt each other out in the first period, with Hall falling well short with an attempt on the half-time hooter.
The Red Devils cranked up the pressure upon the resumption and had a golden opportunity to finish it when Matt Parcell charged down a drop-goal attempt and the ball span into touch near halfway.
It proved to be a pivotal moment as Salford worked their way towards the sticks and a clever switch from the hosts gave Inu the space to sink the one-pointer.
As one wise old coach often said, though, Rovers lost but they didn’t get beat.
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