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Medics' late try a bitter pill for Bradford Salem to swallow
Sheffield Medicals 15 Bradford Salem 12
Bradford Salem suffered an agonising defeat at the leaders as, for the second time in three weeks, they conceded a try deep into injury time.
In blustery conditions at Norton Playing Fields, Salem, with the wind in their favour, started well.
An early break from Damien Pearson, who was once again thrust into the inside centre role following the late withdrawal of flu victim Sam Dunn, set the tone.
The visitors were rewarded when good handling in the backs created an overlap on the left and winger Connor Malarkey showed good pace and strength to score in the corner.
Salem extended their advantage when right winger Sam Savage hit a gap from a planned move and powered his way over for a fine try, improved by full back Danny Belcher to put the Heaton side 12-0 up.
Unfortunately, however, as in previous weeks, Salem were unable to retain the ball for the remainder of the half.
The lack of possession was always likely to tell and the home side breached the Salem line from a driving maul to reduce the arrears to 12-5 at the break.
Salem spent most of the second half defending into the wind. With the penalty count going against them, Bradford were further handicapped when Sam Leach was rightly sin-binned for blatantly going in at the side.
Matters got worse when centre Tom Barnes was incorrectly yellow-carded after he was adjudged to have killed the ball and prop Simon Davies followed him to the bin when the referee felt a ‘hit’ on his opposite number was illegal.
Even though Salem were reduced to 14 and, for a time, 13 men, they continued to defend heroically and looked like they would tough out a famous win.
However, the referee inexplicably played 12 minutes of injury time and, after Salem were penalised at a line-out, Medics had the chance to launch one final attack.
Two further penalties for the home side got them to within metres of the Salem line and, although the tap wasn’t taken from the mark, the Medics scrum half squeezed over the line to snatch victory and inflict a sickening blow to Salem’s promotion hopes.
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