Bradford Salem 24 Sheffield Medics 20
Bradford Salem’s winning run continued as they toppled leaders Sheffield Medicals.
Despite going 3-0 down as the early penalty count went against them, Salem went ahead after slick handling in the backs created space for winger Adam Sutcliffe to squeeze over and Danny Belcher made an excellent touchline conversion.
A Belcher penalty extended his side’s lead to 10-3 and, after Adam Sutcliffe was hauled down inches from the try line following a strong burst and offload from centre Connor Malarkey, hooker Ali Veitch forced his way over. Belcher added the extras to give the home side a 17-3 advantage at half-time.
The Medics continued to play expansive rugby and reduced the deficit to 17-6 with a penalty.
However, Salem responded well and after Kris Falwasser looked like he had scored, only for the referee to fail to see the grounding of the ball, the No 8 went over from the next scrum and Belcher’s boot made it 24-6.
With their confidence on a high, a bonus-point win for Salem was now very much on the cards. However, instead of killing the game off, the home side’s play became too loose and unforced errors gave Medics the sniff of a comeback.
In the final quarter, the lively Medics back line tested the home defence to the full but, despite conceding an increasing number of penalties, some last ditch tackling from Salem, which included some crunching hits from Simon Davies, looked like holding out.
However, the loss of both Falwasser and replacement hooker Simon Markey to the sin bin was always likely to take its toll and the visitors crossed for a converted try to bring the scoreline to 24-13.
Then deep into injury time, after a string of penalties again went in their favour, the Medics managed to score a further converted try in the last play to earn themselves a losing bonus point.
Although they were pleased with the 24-20 victory, Salem felt it was a point lost after failing to score the fourth try which would have closed the game out.