Brave Bees came within a whisker of producing their own version of the Great Escape but ultimately it was a late score by Luctonians that condemned them to relegation from National Two North along with Stockport and Hull.
Eugene Martin’s men did everything in their power to pull off the near impossible, but survival was out of their hands.
Bees were relying on other results to go in their favour – and they almost did.
Hull slipped to a 29-19 defeat against Preston but a last-gasp Luctonians score secured a slender 14-12 triumph over Leicester Lions and sentenced Bees to the drop.
At least director of rugby Martin was able to bow out on a winning note and he admitted: “It was all set up for the perfect escape but we were relying on both Hull and Luctonians losing.
“However, the real damage was done in previous games. I’ve counted on eight occasions where we’ve lost out by three points in the last five minutes.
“The game against Stockport is one in particular which stands out where we only got two points.
“I’ve had many years with Bees and really enjoyed my time here.
“There were occasions when I had to be particularly loyal when the club was going through some difficult moments.
“But it’s never been about me. My role was to make sure the players developed and help make the club better and that is something I will miss.
“I have increased commitments with Warwick School and need to give that more time, which wouldn’t be fair on Bees.’’
Bees always looked in control at Otley, even when they went 3-0 down to an early Steve Depledge penalty.
Despite losing hooker Andy Kettle, Bees bossed the game and were rewarded with tries from fly-half Adam Canning and wing wizard Aquile Smith.
The reliable Canning added the conversions to put Bees 14-3 ahead at half-time.
Within a minute of the second-half resumption, Bees added a third try, Rob Connelly getting the vital touch to a driving
Although Otley hit back with a try by outside-centre Jack Mackie, which Depledge improved, Bees effectively put the issue out of sight with a fourth and bonus-point try when the speedy Smith snapped up his second try of the game and 16th for the season.
A fifth try followed from replacement full-back Ian Briggs, while Canning converted four of the five tries.
Otley added a late consolation converted try but that was of little consequence for Bees, who now face the prospect of playing in the fifth tier of English rugby next season.