BRADFORD Salem made a sensational start, but West Leeds' greater experience finally told as they scored 20 unanswered points in the second half to win an intriguing Yorkshire One contest.

The Salem side contained 11 players under the age of 21, and they gave their high-flying neighbours a real scare as they went 19-0 ahead after just 25 minutes.

But after scoring a vital converted try before the break to get back into the contest, West Leeds went on to win 27-19 to put themselves fifth in the 14-team table.

Defeat for the youthful Bradford outfit leaves them third-bottom.

Salem were dealt a huge blow on the morning of the game when the massively experienced Glenn Morrison was forced to withdraw due to tonsillitis.

The good-sized crowd at Shay Lane were therefore denied the mouth-watering prospect of the former Bradford Bulls star coming up against ex-Leeds Rhinos and Great Britain player, Mark Calderwood, who was on the wing for the visitors.

West Leeds missed an opportunity to go ahead in the opening minutes when Salem were caught offside, as their penalty attempt drifted wide of the uprights.

However, the next 20 minutes belonged to Salem, and they took the lead when an excellent midfield break from back-rower Chris Clough got his side to within metres of the opposition try line.

Quick recycling, together with some swift handling in the backs, created just enough room for Ben Shaw to go over in the left corner, although the young winger still had plenty to do as he jinked past the cover defence before stretching out to score.

Skipper Jake Green then landed the touchline conversion to put his side 7-0 up.

West Leeds were reduced to 14 men as former Salem favourite, Tamati Moana-Orupe, was perhaps a little unfortunate to receive a yellow card from referee Glen Cockroft.

However, Salem made the extra man pay almost immediately when a clever chip by scrum half Callum Smith was gathered in by Green, and he coasted under the posts for a fine try, which he improved himself for a 14-0 lead.

From the restart, West Leeds looked extremely fortunate to avoid a red card, as referee Cockroft seemingly did not see a high shot on Salem No.8 Sam Backhouse, who had to leave the field as a result.

Nevertheless, a telling break by fly-half Jamie Simpson got Salem back on the front foot and although West Leeds managed to clear their lines, the hosts went 19-0 in front when centre Matty Smith raced 70 metres for a superb breakaway try.

Clough was then sent to the sin-bin for a high-tackle and the momentum seemed to swing in favour of West Leeds as a result.

After a series of penalties in Salem's 22, West Leeds finally forced their way over from a catch and drive, the successful conversion reducing the deficit to 19-7 at the break.

West Leeds emerged with renewed confidence in the second half and they were soon attacking the Salem line.

Some last ditch tackling somehow stopped the visitors from crossing but the pressure eventually told as they scored a push-over try.

The subsequent conversion took the score to 19-14 and a penalty minutes later reduced the arrears further to 19-17.

West Leeds now had their tails up and, with 15 minutes of the second half played, they took the lead for the first time.

Weak Salem tackling in midfield enabled the visitors to score under the sticks, and the converted try gave the Leeds side a 24-19 advantage.

With five minutes remaining, West Leeds kicked another penalty and with the gap now at eight points, Salem were at risk of coming away with nothing.

With time ticking away, the hosts were awarded a kickable penalty, but elected to go for the corner in the hope of gaining two bonus points rather than one.

Unfortunately, this bold decision backfired, as Salem were penalised at the lineout and a relieved West Leeds kicked the ball out to secure a hard-earned 27-19 victory.

The young Salem players will hope to put the disappointment of consecutive home losses to Middlesbrough and West Leeds behind them quickly, and they must learn to convert good leads into wins if they are to turn their season around.

Their next chance to do that comes at third-placed Selby this Saturday.