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Danny Belcher hat-trick puts Salem on the road to victory
Skipton 13, Bradford Salem 25
Bradford Salem got their SSE Yorkshire Division Two season underway with a well-earned victory over Skipton at Sandylands yesterday.
The hero for Salem was full back Danny Belcher, who, in only his second game of rugby union since joining from Wibsey Warriors, scored a hat-trick of tries.
Belcher's former Warriors team-mate and stand-off Andy Robinson, who joined Salem during the summer, also opened his account for the club with two penalties and two conversions.
Skipton, who were full of confidence following an emphatic win at Castleford the previous week, drew first blood when captain and former Salem player Darren Howson landed a penalty to take his side into a 3-0 lead.
However, after the home side spilled the ball in the backs, Belcher won a kick and chase to score under the sticks, Robinson tagging on the extras to put the visitors ahead 7-3.
Salem extended their advantage to seven points courtesy of a Robinson penalty but Skipton replied with a second Howson penalty to reduce the arrears to 10-6 at the break.
Salem started to get on top early in the second half and some slick handling in the backs gave Belcher enough space on the right to outpace the cover defence and squeeze over in the corner to take his side into a 15-6 lead.
The Bradford side continued to dominate and a deft grubber kick from Robinson was gathered by Belcher, who dived over for his third try, improved by Robinson, to give Salem a 22-6 advantage.
The visitors were now on the hunt for a bonus point but injuries to prop Jordan Ashworth and hooker Simon Markey seemed to upset their rhythm.
The Heaton side were then punished for some sloppy play and a converted try from Skipton got them back into the game at 22-13.
Robinson settled Bradford nerves with a long-range penalty but, despite pressing hard in the closing stages, Salem were unable to add to their tally and ran out deserved 25-13 winners.