Ryhope arrived at Hebburn Town on Saturday needing two points to guarantee promotion – but were denied by a superb home display.
Hebburn, in their final home game of the season, started well with Chris Feasey superbly crossing for Channon North, who from two yards out failed to score as Rookes saved his effort.
A minute later, Rookes again saved from North.
After 35 minutes, great work from man of the match Craig Malley led to North scoring with a looping shot, only for the striker then to be forced off with a groin injury.
Ryhope had very few opportunities in the first half, although they put Hebburn under pressure as half time approached.
The second half was a more open game as Ryhope searched for the equaliser.
Malley was causing real problems with his pace on Hebburn’s right wing, leading to missed chances from Glen Hargrave and Marc Costello.
With 10 minutes to go, Josh Home Jackson was in on goal as Hebburn’s defence was caught flat footed, but Steve Hubery saved well from his feet to give Hebburn a deserved victory.
Manager Scott Oliver said: “I’m delighted with the win – it was a real team effort from the lads.
“It’s a shame the season is ending as we are finishing strong.”