Yorkshire Division One: Bradford Salem 15 Heath 31

BRADFORD Salem, who had led 10-0, were eventually ground down by the Yorkshire Division One leaders, but there was plenty to admire about the home team's performance.

Salem's head coach Neil Spence said: "I am a little bit disappointed not to get anything out of the game and I don't think that the final score reflects the closeness between the teams.

"We always knew that we were going to struggle up front, especially in the scrum with missing some key people - Damien Pearson is a big lump in the second row and Pete Tennet was missing from the front row and his experience would have helped - but I was proud of the way we played.

"Some boys really stepped up. Centre Max Trueman played well against Hullensians and again played really well and Jack Payne, who can also play nine, is a lively character at full back.

"I just hope that we bounce on from this. Salem tend to raise their game against the top teams, but I have just said to the lads in the changing room that if we play like this week in, week out against teams in mid-table and the bottom of the table then the result will take care of itself.

"We need to get numbers to training, train with intensity and go to West Leeds next weekend with the mentality of putting them away with a bonus-point win, but all of that starts with the basics as it did here with keeping the ball, building phases and creating a score."

Salem looked more like the front-runners in the opening 25 minutes, with a Max Trueman try and a Matt Booth penalty and conversion giving the hosts a dream start.

Spence said: "They key was limiting the number of scrums that we had and playing with intensity, even though it was wet in baddish conditions, and we needed to play a quick, open expansive offloading game, which we did.

"We really stepped it up from winning at bottom-of-the-table Hullensians the previous week and we rose to the occasion."

It was 10-10 at half-time as Heath hit back with tries by replacement Richard Brown - a pushover effort - and winger Callum Harriott-Brown, and Spence said of the second half: "We wanted to play as we had done, limit the number of mistakes that we made and try to limit the number of scrums, but the latter was the deciding factor in the end as to who came out on top."

The first scrum in the second minute was ominous for Salem as the visitors got a shove on but the hosts turned the ball over and won a penalty themselves.

Four minutes later, the home side were ahead after centre Trueman caught the ball in his own half and exchanged passes with flanker Nick Fontaine before scoring himself for Booth to convert.

Rhys Green almost went over in the 11th minute, chasing his own grubber kick and managing to momentarily catch the ball between his shins while horizontal, but Salem got away with a dangerous Heath raid two minutes later after a ricochet went into Harriott-Brown's bread basket and he put fly half Dan Cole away.

Former Cleckheaton player Matt Beasty's sin-binning by referee Andy Williamson (North Yorkshire Society) in the 19th minute for a high tackle in Heath's 22 led to Booth slotting a penalty to make it 10-0.

Three minutes later came a crucial moment as Rhys Green knocked on with the line at this mercy, although his arm was simultaneously knocked, and on the half-hour Salem skipper and No 8 Tim Makaafi was yellow carded for not rolling away.

In the 33rd minute, Heath cashed in with a pushover try for Brown, centre Ezra Hinchcliffe hitting the near post with his conversion attempt from the right wing.

The visitors then levelled with a soft try in the 38th minute as Salem scrum half Harley Robertshaw failed to ground the ball behind his line, with it popping free for Harriott-Brown to touch down.

Heath then threatened to take an interval lead - first when centre Willie Tufui's break was ended by a solid cover tackle by winger Jake Green and then when Heath No 8 Jordan Moana - son of former Halifax RL star Martin - was shoved into touch in Salem's 22 following a penalty for the visitors.

It took the hosts until the 69th minute to add to their tally via a try by Fontaine after Harriott-Brown had made a hash of dealing with a grubber, and the second half generally belonged to Heath.

Booth's kick downfield in the 41st minute prompted a counter attack that almost led to a try, with full back Eddie Cartwright, Harriott-Brown and lock Saif Boussaada involved before the latter knocked on.

Three minutes later the visitors were ahead via a penalty try, and although they lost Brown to a knee injury and Makaafi then ran strongly out of defence, the tide was turning against Salem.

Prop To'i Auali'itia went off with an injured right shoulder in the 51st minute and team-mate Rhys Green was sin-binned three minutes later for hands in the ruck, despite the ball already appearing to have passed between Green's legs.

A minute after that, in the 55th minute, Moana scored a try that Hinchcliffe converted.

Fontaine's try revived hopes of both a four-try bonus point and a losing bonus point but they were dashed by a second try for Harriott-Brown, with Hinchcliffe adding the conversion.

All that remained was for Salem winger Jake Green to show great pace and balance with a run out of defence, and Spence concluded: "It is disappointing the amount of penalties that we give away but Rhys Green's yellow card was a little harsh as the referee was telling him to release the ball after it had already gone but I am not slating him as it is his interpretation and we have to play to that."