COMPETITIVE rugby has returned, to the rejoice of many and Bradford Salem are targetting an exciting campaign.

Neil Spence's side got off to a flyer in the Yorkshire Division 1 league on Saturday September 4, beating Roundhegians 26-10 at home.

However, two defeats have followed since then, the latest being a 20-43 beating at home to Old Crossleyans.

Despite winning the opening fixture, Spence feels his side have made great performance based strides in the two defeats and is encouraged Salem can target promotion come the end of the season.

He said: "It's going to be a tough season as there are many good teams in the division, but I would love for us to push for promotion.

"You do have to be realistic though and with that in mind, a top-half finish should be the minimum we set our sights on.

"If we are there or there abouts in the push for top four, then that would be fantastic. I feel we've got a very capable squad."

Reflecting on the start of the campaign, Spence said: "It's great to be back involved with competitive rugby again. I think everyone has missed it and it's great to have players back, crowds returning and the general buzz of a matchday back within the community.

"We had a great start in the league, getting that bonus point victory against Roundhegians and I couldn't have been more pleased with the start we made.

"Unfortunately we lost the following two fixtures and in the most recent defeat against Old Crossleyans, despite losing, I saw a massive improvement within the side from the first two games.

"We were able to put into practice what we'd worked on during training and it was a very pleasing performance, even if the scoreline doesn't necessarily say so.

"I seriously think Old Crossleyans will be pushing for promotion come the end of the season, or at least there or there abouts.

"So overall, I was extremely pleased that we competed really well against a side who have bags of quality.

"They had only conceded one try in the first two league games, so to score three against them was really pleasing.

"We can hold our heads high and build on that performance.

"I spoke to their staff after the game and they said that we were the best side they'd faced in the opening three fixtures, which was really nice to hear."

Salem travel to Beverley today, (3:00 PM) and Spence believes his side are facing a tough opponent.

He said: "We are definitely getting stronger and stronger every week, so I'm confident we can turn a good performance into a win on Saturday.

"It will be a tough test. It is always tough at Beverley but we are confident."