Yorkshire Division One: Bradford Salem 21 Beverley 16

GLENN Morrison simply refused to wait any longer to make his comeback for Bradford Salem.

The former Bradford Bulls star had been out for nine weeks with a badly broken thumb and the clincher was Salem's 21-0 Yorkshire Division One defeat at West Leeds on November 23.

As for his experience of playing rugby union, the rugby league star admitted: "I am enjoying it but I haven't enjoyed sitting on the sidelines.

"West Leeds was a hard watch. I was supposed to be out for a few more weeks but after watching that I had to put myself forward for this one and it was great to be out there."

'Great to be out there' was probably the sentiment of all 18 Salem players after they turned in a superb defensive display in a compelling 21-16 home win over third-placed Beverley at Shay Lane that Morrison said was the victors' best performance of the season.

And it seems that getting back to basics was the catalyst for turning things around as Salem won their game in hand to climb two places up the table to 10th so that they are now five points above a relegation berth.

The 43-year-old Morrison (who thinks of him as being 43 when you watch him play?) admitted: "We had a good talk during the week and just needed to do the basics right.

"Last week they (West Leeds) beat us in that area and we just needed to bring a bit of aggression, and we did.

"We just did the basics - we ran hard and hit hard and that upset their play and Beverley couldn't use their outside backs, which are a threat for them, as much as they have done and the boys just wanted a win and we got it."

The former NRL stand-out added: "It makes it easy when our defence is set, all talking and we get forward together and get in their faces.

"They have threats across the board and we knew that we had to get up and nullify that and we did. Everybody got on board with it and we put in some good shots.

"We need the points, we want to win and if we play anything like we did here we will give ourselves that chance."

Beverley landed a penalty to draw level at 16-16 in the 67th minute and looked like they might pinch a victory, but Morrison confessed: "I would have been disappointed if we had drawn, even when they took that penalty as I thought that we deserved the win and worked hard enough to get it."

Salem were missing seven players from the previous week and Beverley four - this was originally a non-league Saturday - and Morrison explained: "Some people played in three or four different positions as we got mixed around.

"We have had some injuries, people coming back, people playing busted, but we had to put everything aside and play for each other, and we did that."

The conundrum that Salem now have to solve is to play consistently well against teams in mid-table or at the bottom, and Morrison said: "Christian Baines (skipper) talked about us playing better against the better teams, but I think that was our best performance this season.

"Mind you we have to learn to lift for every match, no matter where they are in the table."

Morrison got through his comeback match okay and revealed: "Both thumbs now have plates in it but I haven't had one like this where the ligaments and the thumb went the opposite way.

"I usually heal pretty good so touch wood there are no more dramas with it."

The former Dewsbury Rams coach, who is now a rugby coach at Bradford Grammar School, is clearly enjoying his Indian summer with Salem.

He admitted: "I am happy to play when I can as long as my school commitments at Bradford Grammar allow.

"My body will feel it in the morning but I am enjoying it."

Salem's first-team pitch was unplayable at 9.30am on Saturday but the rise in temperatures from below freezing to four degrees meant that it was playable two hours later.

Beverley fly half and skipper Phil Duboulay had the first shot at goal, but missed in the second minute with an effort from Salem's 10-metre line on the angle.

However, Salem's man of the match Rhys Green was offside from the subsequent drop out to pile more pressure on the hosts.

The first example of Salem's tackling intent forced a visiting knock-on though, but they then needed to be aware as Beverley full back Luke Hazell generally showed some fancy footwork and beautiful balance. Lock Callum Harvey ran a great angle only for the promotion chasers to be pinged by referee Kristian Garland (West Yorkshire Society) for an error.

That was in the 11th minute, and eight minutes later Salem were 9-0 ahead courtesy of three penalties by scrum half Matthew Booth as Beverley were twice picked up for holding on and once for hands on the floor.

The third penalty seemed harsh on the visitors as one of their players seemed to be taken out in the air seconds earlier following a Morrison up and under.

Booth stroked over his kicks with just enough force but the breathing space was shortlived as Beverley No 8 Isaac Keighley scored from a pushover try in the 24th minute, with Duboulay adding the conversion.

Rhys Green usually made good ground but a promising home attack ended with them being penalised for crossing, and Beverley ended the half with a 13-9 advantage as Duboulay knocked over penalties in the 34th and 36th minutes.

More bad news for Salem came with the sin-binning of Baines for a high tackle in first-half injury time but the numbers were levelled up five minutes after the interval when left winger Steve Payne saw yellow for a deliberate knock on to prevent Salem centre Max Trueman from putting winger Jake Green over for a try in a two-on-one attack down the right.

Morrison's kick ahead in the 61st minute for himself and Jake Green to chase forced Beverley to concede a five-metre scrum, and the hosts capitalised three minutes later when, after Rhys Green was taken out in the air at a line-out to give Salem a free play, Baines - a returnee like Morrison - forced his way over in the right-hand corner near Heaton Woods.

Booth's conversion hit the near upright and went over to give Salem a 16-13 advantage but that was nullified in the 67th minute when Duboulay stroked over a penalty to tie matters.

Salem, for whom the returning Andy Robinson was now on the field, were sniffing victory, however, but Beverley always looked capable of counter-attacking from within their 22 and the tension mounted.

Perhaps it got to Booth as he hooked a kickable penalty wide in the 69th minute.

Salem flanker Tim Makaafi almost broke through two minutes later but the home side got their reward three minutes from time when, having already been given a penalty advantage after a high tackle on Makaafi, replacement Dan Scarbrough kicked a grubber through and dived on it just before it went over the dead-ball line.

Booth hit the far upright with his kick this time and the ball bounced out but it ultimately did not matter as Salem had won what was a cracking encounter.