Yorkshire Division One: Middlesbrough 49 Bradford Salem 3

BRADFORD Salem’s first visit to Acklam Park was not a happy one as they conceded seven tries in a comprehensive Yorkshire Division One defeat.

Middlesbrough player-coach Andy Baggett’s decision to switch the game to the slightly drier second-team pitch turned out to be an inspired one as the former Wharfedale captain registered a haul of 24 points, with two tries and seven conversions from as many attempts.

The hosts played an expansive game from the off and, after stretching Salem out wide both left and right, open-side flanker Rob Bellerby took a short pass at pace to break through and score a fine try which Baggett improved to give them an early 7-0 lead.

This setback seemed to spur Salem into action, and only a marginally forward pass from Ryan Smith to Nick Fontaine prevented the visitors from scoring.

However, shortly afterwards, the visitors did manage to get on the board as a penalty from fly half and skipper Andy Robinson reduced the deficit to 7-3.

Five minutes later, a foot in touch denied Middlesbrough a further score but the home side were looking increasingly dangerous, and increased their lead with a well-taken try from speedy left winger Sean Moloney.

Baggett added the extras to put his side 14-3 ahead and, after a period of intense pressure, he went over for a try that he improved himself to give Boro a 21-3 advantage at the break.

At this point, Salem felt that they were still in with a shout but five minutes into the second half, more good handling in the backs produced a converted try for Moloney which increased the lead to 28-3.

To make matters worse for Salem, they were then reduced to 14 men as hooker Simon Markey, who had only just come on as a replacement, received his marching orders.

Markey took exception to Middlesbrough’s replacement prop deliberately collapsing a scrum, and, although his retaliatory punch appeared to miss the target, South Yorkshire referee Jeff Hudson obviously thought that there had been sufficient intent to merit an instant red card.

With a one-man advantage, the rest of the half belonged to Middlesbrough, and they began to cut loose against a rapidly tiring Salem defence.

Further tries from winger Rhys Kilbride and full back Matthew Todd extended the home side’s lead to 42-3 and then, in the final play, Baggett collected a cross kick to stroll under the posts to score his second try, the fly half landing the simple conversion to preserve his 100 per cent record with the boot and seal an emphatic victory.