Yorkshire Division One: Bradford Salem 23 Moortown 3

DESPITE fielding an experimental pack, with several players playing out of position, Bradford Salem inflicted Moortown's first league defeat since April, 2016.

The victory was very much down to an immense defensive display, with flanker Conor Wood and No 8 Christian Baines both putting in massive stints.

Although Salem were struggling in the set-pieces, they took a 3-0 lead after 13 minutes, courtesy of a penalty by full back Danny Belcher after Moortown were caught offside.

Five minutes later, Salem doubled their tally when former England international Dan Scarbrough, playing on the right wing, was taken out late, the guilty Moortown player rightly receiving a yellow card from referee Fergus Hollins, who was on exchange from the Scottish Society.

With 35 minutes gone, Moortown kicked a penalty of their own after Salem skipper Andy Robinson was penalised for a high shot.

The rest of the half, however, belonged to Salem, and, after a period of pressure, Scarbrough sliced through to score an excellent try, improved by Belcher, to give the hosts a 13-3 advantage at the break.

Two minutes into the second half, Wood was penalised for holding on but rather than going for three points, Moortown elected to kick for touch.

However, this decision backfired when, despite winning the line-out, Moortown conceded a penalty, allowing their opponents to relieve the pressure.

The visitors were awarded two further penalties but again they kicked for touch rather than take the points on offer.

Moortown continued to press in Salem's 22 but once again some tenacious defending by the home side somehow managed to keep their opponents at bay.

Faced with an unrelenting brick-wall defence, Moortown were beginning to get frustrated, and when Salem forced a turnover, it was their turn to launch an attack in the opposition 22.

After some punishing runs from Baines and Jamie Booth, man of the match Wood showed exceptional strength when he took three or four defenders over the line with him as he stretched out to score a fine try at the base of one of the uprights.

Belcher landed the simple conversion to give Salem a healthy 20-3 lead with 15 minutes of the half played.

Salem were awarded a penalty straight from the restart and, after a quick tap and go, Scarbrough sent supporting second-rower Sam Gardner galloping towards the line.

Unfortunately, the 40-year-old former Otley and Keighley Cougars star didn't quite have the legs, and a great opportunity was missed when he was unable to offload to Robinson, who was screaming on his outside.

With Salem's scrummaging showing signs of improvement, the hosts looked increasingly likely to extend their lead, but an attempted drop goal by Robinson and a penalty attempt by Belcher both drifted agonisingly wide of the target.

With their confidence levels growing, Salem were soon back on the offensive and they once again came close to scoring when scrum half Matt Booth just failed to get the ball away to Latvian international Gundars Griekis after gathering the ball five metres out.

Shortly afterwards, good handling in the backs created a further scoring chance on the right but this time it took a big hit on Belcher to stop Salem from crossing the line.

The hosts were awarded a penalty when Griekis, who had an outstanding game, was high-tackled, and this enabled the hosts to launch another series of attacks on Moortown's line.

To the visitors' credit, they managed to force an error, but out of desperation they then tried to run the ball from their own line.

This bold decision was thwarted as Salem's defence held firm yet again to put them back on the attack.

With 37 minutes of the second half played, Moortown were reduced to 14 men when their No 8 received a yellow card for killing the ball.

After a series of telling runs from Baines, Griekis and flanker Callum Manchester, Salem were awarded another penalty, and Belcher took the points to put his side 23-3 ahead.

A fine take from the restart by veteran New Zealand second-rower Dean McNicholl received a big cheer from the Salem faithful, and, despite a spirited late challenge by Moortown, Henry Brown, who was making his debut on the wing, did well to deal with a tricky kick through on his own line, and his pass to Belcher allowed the full back to clear the ball and seal a hard-earned 23-3 victory.