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Sam Gardner scores on debut as Bradford Salem win away again
West Park Leeds 19, Bradford Salem 25
Bradford Salem secured a second successive away win in SSE Yorkshire Division Two yesterday after overcoming West Park Leeds at The Sycamores.
Salem took an early 5-0 lead when former Otley and Keighley Cougars winger Sam Gardner, making his debut at inside centre, intercepted a speculative West Park inside pass and just managed to hold off the cover defence in a 70-metre race to the line.
However, the lead proved to be short-lived as West Park scored a converted try after some excellent handling in the backs created an overlap on the left to put the home side ahead 7-5.
Salem were then dealt a further blow when No 8 James Cunliffe had to leave the with a hamstring injury, Canadian Sean McLelland coming on at blind-side flanker and skipper Damien Pearson taking over at No 8.
Despite this setback, Salem regained the lead when good recycled ball from the pack provided fly half Andy Robinson with sufficient space to draw the opposition midfield defence, and an exquisite switch with namesake Jonny saw the speedy centre dot down under the sticks.
Andy Robinson kicked the simple conversion and he then traded penalties with his opposite number to give his side a 15-10 advantage at the break.
A penalty for each side early in the second half made the scoreline 18-13 before open-side flanker Dave Hutton managed to drive over from close range for a crucial try, improved by Andy Robinson, to put the visitors ahead 25-13.
Unfortunately, Salem then put pressure on themselves and they conceded a penalty right from the restart which West Park converted to bring them back to within nine points at 25-16.
To make matters worse, referee Rob Staines then sent prop Jordan Ashworth to the sin-bin and West Park kicked the resultant penalty to get them to within a score at 25-19.
To their credit, Salem managed to weather the storm, and once they got back to 15 men they were unlucky not to breach the West Park Leeds line in the final stages.
In the end, they had to settle forfour important league points which will hopefully help to kick-start their season.