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Shock setback dents Bradford Salem's promotion ambitions
Knottingley 29, Bradford Salem 14
Bradford Salem's promotion hopes took a dent as they lost to SSE Yorkshire Division Two strugglers Knottingley at Howard's Field.
After a three-week lay-off, the team which showed most commitment and adapted best to the conditions was always likely to come out on top, and the home side's superior kicking game proved to be the deciding factor.
Although Knottingley missed an early penalty attempt, Salem were first on the scoresheet when outside centre Adam Sutcliffe finished off some good handling to score a fine try in his first outing since rejoining the club from Huddersfield, full back Danny Belcher adding the extras to give the visitors a 7-0 lead.
Knottingley soon drew level with a converted try after they exploited space on the left, and they went ahead 10-7 with a penalty after the visitors were caught offside.
Salem hit back back when, in a rare visit into their opponents' 22, Sutcliffe showed good strength to drive over the line for his second try, improved by Belcher to give the Bradford side a 14-10 advantage.
Unfortunately, however, Salem conceded a try immediately from the restart when a comedy of errors gifted Knottingley good field position and, from a midfield scrum on the 22, the home side once again created space out wide, allowing them to score in the right corner and give them a slender 15-14 lead at the break.
In the second half, despite the introduction of talisman Dave Hutton, who was making his seasonal debut after returning from a back-packing trip, Salem found themselves pinned in the own half due to some excellent tactical kicking from the home side.
The resultant pressure was always likely to tell and Salem went behind 22-14 after they conceded a converted try.
The visitors then enjoyed their best spell but were unable to turn pressure into points as firstly Belcher missed a simple penalty and then, after they elected to take a a quick tap rather than go for a certain three points, Salem were penalised at the breakdown and Knottingley managed to clear their line.
After this setback, Salem never really threatened and Knottingley scored a fourth try to earn themselves a bonus point and seal a deserved 29-14 victory.
Although the Heaton side missed the presence of Simon Davies and Damien Pearson, who are still out injured, the players will need to pick themselves up and show a marked improvement if they are to launch a serious promotion challenge in 2014.
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