BRADFORD Salem sent a youthful squad to fellow Yorkshire One side West Leeds on Saturday but they shone against their strong opponents, who included former Salem favourite Tamati Moana-Orupe.

Salem's squad had no less than 10 players making their first team debuts with 7 players under the age of 20.

West Leeds benefitted from the fact that they had played 2 previous games under the new adapted laws whilst it was Salem's first competitive game since 14th March 2020.

However, as the game progressed, Salem came more and more into their own and they actually edged the second half 12-10 after being 22-6 down at the break.

Although the scoreline finished at West Leeds 32-18 Bradford Salem, it was the youngsters who stole the show.

Discussing his side's performance, head coach Neil Spence said: "Considering we hadn't played for a long time, I thought the boys played really well.

"It was very much a blend of youth and experience. We were quite rusty but I thought we came into the game, especially in the second half.

"If you look at it as a game of two halves, we won the second half.

"They were obviously a lot stronger than us, but I spoke to their coaches after the game and they said that their side was only two or three players away from being their best lineup.

"And we had around five first team players playing in a very young and inexperienced side."

Spence was quick to heap praise on to his youngsters and discussed the importance of embedding youth into a first team.

He said: "This is something that we spoke about years ago when I worked for the RFU, about developing a junior section to produce homegrown talent, to play for the first team.

"And then you've got lads playing for the club for the right reasons, and it means something to them. You sort of build from within and you get a good team spirit, and a good culture for the team and the club.

"And that is something that we are slowly reaping the rewards from."

Spence added: "The performances from the youngsters were really good against West Leeds.

"Obviously there is a lot work on, in regards to organisation.

"I feel that to get up to speed with the calls, the structures and the shapes that we are trying to play to, and obviously to work on their individual core skills of handling and tackling, it would be good for them.

"They need to work together more as a team as well. The more time we spend together, the more we will begin to gel. As the game progressed on Saturday, we improved because the lads got an understanding of how we want to play."

Salem will begin their pre-season friendly schedule on August 14, before facing rivals Keighley RUFC on August 28.