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Bradford Salem denied by inspired Leodiensian defence
Leodiensian 23, Bradford Salem 5
Bradford Salem suffered their first defeat of the season at the hands of an inspired Leodiensian side at Crag Lane in SSE Yorkshire Division Two.
The visitors had the better of the opening exchanges but despite two successive midfield breaks from experienced centre Sam Gardner, Salem failed to put points on the board.
After weathering the early pressure, Leos began to play with growing confidence and they took a 3-0 lead courtesy of a penalty from fly half Ed Farmer.
Salem did well to counteract the threat of player-coach Dan Hyde, the former England international having to leave the field with a hamstring injury.
However, despite this loss, Leos continued to pile the pressure on and they were finally rewarded for their efforts when former Otley player Jimmy Henry strolled over the line after five phases of recycled possession.
Leos continued to dominate and a further period of pressure created room for another former Otley player Rob Whatmuff to score in the right corner to give the home side a 15-0 advantage at the break.
Salem's head coach Phil Nilsen commended his charges over their first-half defensive display and, with the breeze now in their favour, he felt confident that they could turn things round as long as they retained possession.
The visitors' spirits were lifted when swift handling in the backs allowed winger Sam Dunn to score in the corner to reduce the arrears to 15-5.
Salem at this stage looked like they could stage a comeback but the turning point came when full back Danny Belcher was tap-tackled with the line at his mercy, and Leos somehow managed to prevent a certain score.
This last-gasp effort by the home side set the tone for the remainder of the match as Salem were repeatedly denied by Leos' excellent scrambling defence.
The home side extended their lead to 18-5 with a second Farmer penalty, and shortly after they virtually made the game safe when turnover ball gave them good field position and, although there was a suspicion of a forward pass in the build-up, some brilliant off-loading resulted in a converted try to take the score to 23-5.
Salem should have scored what would have been only a consolation try in the final stages but it wasn't to be their day as Leos ran out deserved winners.
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