BRADFORD Salem not only played a good game, but also showed that they could talk a good game in winning this Yorkshire Division One derby 52-22 against a team that did the double over them last season.

Head coach Neil Spence explained after this seven-try victory: “We had a pre-season meeting about managing the referee, about keeping him on-side, and our discipline helped us win.

“We haven’t had a great reputation in this regard last season and it is something that we wanted to improve as once you get a reputation it tends to stick to you.”

Spence must also have been delighted with how his new-look side gelled, and he explained: “A lot of the boys are from Bradford Grammar School under Dan Scarbrough and are well educated and well coached.

“But we know that we won’t be able to field the same team every week, so we have a spreadsheet that tells us who is available when, and we have players to come in, such as Mike McDonald and the lads who are seeing out the summer rugby league season.

“However, we feel that we have some quality backs in Danny Belcher, Max Trueman and Harry Hall and we have more strength in depth overall, but it only one game won.”

Keighley, who kicked off 15 minutes later than their normal home start time of 2pm, may have been level at half-time at 14-14, but full back Jake Duxbury said of their overall display: “This is what happens when you only play for 15 minutes out of the 80 and go away from the game plan that you have been working on beforehand.

“Also our penalty count was disappointing, but we have a good set of lads and we will work hard for each other.”

Keighley, watched by former player Alfie Seeley, who is back with Keighley Cougars, made the ideal start with a Duxbury try from an Adam Horsfall break, with the points being the first on the club’s new electronic scoreboard.

However, Duxbury was then in action at the other end of the field, pulling off a try-saving tackle on veteran second row Sam Gardner after neat interplay with returning flanker Rhys Green.

Keighley fly half Alex Brown also converted a close-in snipe from scrum half Lucas Uren, but they were cancelled out by a show and go from Salem fly half James Pinder and a try by winger Ryan Smith, who just outpaced Duxbury after Hall had snaffled a loose ball, with both tries being converted by Belcher.

Keighley had a try disallowed on the left just before half-time for a forward pass, but the hosts went in front via an early Brown penalty in the second half after great work by winger Allan Ebbrell in catching the kick-off.

However, Salem, who seemed better able to cope with the high-tempo game that an artificial grass pitch tends to serve up, dominated much of the final 35 minutes, with Keighley starting to look tired on a warm afternoon before the end of the first half.

A charging run by skipper Christian Baines set up the position for flanker Ross Kirtland to score, after scrum half Adam Waring had gone close, and Salem had a bit of clear water after flanker Rhys Green went over following more loose play by Keighley.

A knock on near the Salem line by lock Luke Carter seemed to sum up Keighley’s day, and, after converting both tries, Belcher stroked over a penalty to make it 31-17 before playing a key part in the visitors’ next try.

He chipped ahead and got the benefit of a rebound off Duxbury before juggling and then catching the ball to help put Green over.

Belcher converted again and, despite Ebbrell spotting a chink in Salem’s defensive armour to score a try after prop Craig Spencer had been ticked off by the referee for a late shoulder charge, the visitors finished on top with tries by Baines, after great interplay following a line-out, and Waring.

Belcher converted both, with the second try coming after Keighley winger Joe Sugden had been sin-binned by referee Colin Tovey (Central Yorkshire Society) for a professional foul for hauling back a Salem player off the ball following an intelligent kick ahead by 40-year-old Scarbrough.

Seconds earlier, the former England international, who was only starting because winger Sam Dunn cried off due to work commitments, showed that he still had the legs to cut through a gap.

It was an emphatic win for a Salem side who had a lost a year ago at Keighley 46-3, although that match was played on proper grass on the second-team pitch as the AGP365 pitch was not ready for use until later in the season.

Keighley also won at Salem 34-7, but overall Salem have now won 11 of their 19 meetings with Keighley – six at Rose Cottage and five at Shay Lane.

Next up for Keighley, who handed debuts to former colts Adam Kemp and Josh Slingsby, with Luke Crooks (Ilkley) and Luke Currie (Skipton) joining the latter for first starts off the bench,is a trip to Dinnington, who were beaten 36-22 at Old Crossleyans, while Salem, who gelled surprisingly well considering this was their first league match for a mixture of what was a mainly young side with a sprinkling of experience, host Andy Baggett’s Middlesbrough and their formidable backs.

The Teessiders started their campaign with a 34-14 home win over Heath, who have agreed to visit Rose Cottage for a Friday Night Lights league fixture on April 5.

This venture worked well last season when Moortown were the visitors, enabling local aficionados to get their rugby union fix twice a weekend and drawing in many neutrals.