BRADFORD Salem secured a much-needed but deserved 28-14 victory over mid-table Dinnington to give them hope of lifting themselves off the foot of the Yorkshire One table before the end of the season.

With skipper Christian Baines making his first appearance at Shay Lane since injuring his knee six months ago, and with fellow back-rower Ben Whitaker also returning to the side following a long lay-off, Salem were in confident mood.

They should have taken the lead in the very first minute, only for the normally reliable Sam Allan to push his penalty attempt wide of the uprights.

Salem continued to pile on the pressure in the early stages but despite the McConville brothers, Xander and Caleb, both going close, the hosts came away with nothing as they lost possession.

Salem were then dealt a sucker punch when in their first visit into opposition territory, Dinnington fly-half Kai Ramrattan dummied his way through without a hand being laid on him to dot down under the posts.

Centre Rob Leivars just managed to squeeze over the conversion to give his side a 7-0 lead with seven minutes gone.

The next 20 minutes belonged to Salem, but despite creating clearcut chances they were unable to get over the whitewash.

After being held up, Caleb McConville had the line at his mercy when he only needed to pick up Callum Smith's pin-point cross-kick to score.

However, he fumbled the ball and a cast-iron chance went begging.

Then, veteran hooker Simon Markey forced his way over, only for referee Dave Downham to rule it out for obstruction.

With half an hour played, Dinnington were reduced to 14 men when firebrand winger Kale Hutchings was sent to the bin, Allan kicking the resulting penalty to reduce the deficit to 7-3.

With a one-man advantage, Salem continued to press and after a quick tap by man-of the match Jamie Simpson, centre and former Bradford Bulls star Glenn Morrison barged his way over from close range.

Allan added the extras to put the hosts 10-7 in front.

Second-rower Fin Southcott, who otherwise had an excellent game, then bombed another huge scoring opportunity when he failed to collect Simpson's delicate chip ahead.

Instead, Salem had to be content with a further Allan penalty to give themselves a 13-7 advantage at the break.

Head coach Neil Spence made a number of changes at half-time with Oliver Bishop, Sam Gardner and John Bradbury replacing Markey, Whitaker and Isaac Lickley.

The three pairs of fresh legs paid dividends almost immediately as, within four minutes of the restart, former Bradford & Bingley favourite Tom Cummins scored from a catch and drive to bag his first try for Salem since joining them from Otley.

Although Allan missed the difficult conversion, with their lead now increased to 18-7, Salem were clearly growing in confidence,

Straight from the kick off, Salem were back on the attack and some excellent handling in the backs created sufficient space for Smith to cross in the left corner.

Allan added a magnificent touchline conversion to give the hosts a healthy 25-7 lead.

With Salem now pressing for a fourth try for a bonus point, there was a massive swing in momentum when winger Ben Shaw failed to deal with a Dinnington clearance kick and ended up losing 70 metres.

This gave Dinnington the lift they desperately needed, as it was now their turn to pile on the pressure.

Things got worse for Salem when, with just under 30 minutes remaining, Baines was sent to the sin-bin.

Simpson took over the captaincy for eight minutes before joining Baines in the bin when he was inexplicably yellow carded for a deliberate knock on with his foot.

With Salem temporarily down to 13 men, Dinnington took advantage, as No.8 Ryan Donnelly went over for a try, improved by scrum half Oliver Breedon to reduce the arrears to 25-14.

Salem owed much of their response to a cameo performance from 44-year-old centre Sam Gardner, who pulled off some superb tackles in midfield.

Gardner's involvement in the game was cut short with eight minutes remaining when he was yellow carded for a high-shot.

Referee Downham then reversed the penalty when Hutchings was given a red card for punching.

Allan settled Salem nerves with his third successful penalty for a 28-14 lead, but it took some determined defending in the closing stages to stop Dinnington from adding to their tally, as the Heaton team closed out victory.

The win takes Salem just three points behind West Yorkshire rivals Huddersfield YMCA, who stayed second-bottom after their 37-25 defeat at Roundhegians on Saturday.