BRADFORD Salem should be full of confidence as they prepare for another tilt at promotion from SSE Yorkshire Division Two.
The Shay Laners have already won the Skiptens Tournament and have made five new signings, including strengthening their Keighley Cougars connections under director of rugby Sam Gardner, a former Lawkholme Lane favourite.
Centre, wing or full back Ryan Smith, late of Wibsey Warriors, and second row or back row Dan Snowden both used to play for Cougars, and they have been joined by back rower Conor (correct) Wood from West Bowling and Dudley Hill.
Conor is the son of former Bees, Wakefield, Leeds Tykes and Yorkshire second-rower Paul Wood.
Salem's summer signing spree is completed by hooker Ugo Okeahialam, from Bradford Grammar School, and scrum half or centre Jimmy Priestley, former of Leeds Akkies, Stanningley and Hull FC Academy.
Meanwhile, waiting in the wings is New Zealander Ryan McKessar – son of former Salem skipper Mike – who is set to arrive in mid-October.
Prop Ryan plays for the Sydenham club in Christchurch, who have provided Salem with several players down the years, including McKessar senior, USA international Robbie Flynn, Karl Thomson and Tama Collins.
Salem, who included Wharfedale's Rob Baldwin and Ilkley flier Ben Magee as guests, defeated National League Three North Huddersfield YMCA 21-14 in the Skiptens final.
A stunning individual effort by Magee opened the scoring in the final, which Andy Robinson improved, but it was 7-7 by half-time.
The same pattern followed in the second half – a converted Magee try and a YMCA response to make it 14-14 – before Danny Belcher's late converted try sealed it for Salem.
Earlier, Salem had beaten West Park Leeds 64-0 and Skipton 52-0 before losing 20-10 to Wharfedale on the back of a heavy penalty count, progressing on goal difference after Wharfedale missed the last kick of their final pool game.
However, the Heaton club bounced back by defeating previously unbeaten YMCA 21-14 to book a place in the semi-finals, where Pool A winners North Ribblesdale were defeated 28-12. YMCA had earlier beaten Wharfedale 29-12.
Salem's winning squad (complete with tries scored) were Ben Magee (9), Danny Belcher (4), Andy Robinson (4), Ryan Smith (3), Rhys Green (2), Ali Veitch (2), Conor Wood (2), Connor Malarkey (1), Ugo Okeahialam (1), Dan Snowden (1), Alex Wood (1), James Cunliffe (captain), Rob Baldwin, Kris Falwasser, Carl Walker.
Wharfedale defeated Keighley in the plate final.