BRADFORD Salem have had better days.

Not only did their mini revival come to an end at hosts Keighley, who had not lost at home since October 2019, but they had two players dismissed late on by referee Tony Smith.

Replacement Elliott Cousins saw red in the 72nd minute after tackling full-back Alfie Seeley by his collar and twirling him around, while flanker Tom Cummins followed him for an early bath eight minutes after that for a late tackle.

In addition, the visitors, who lost the Counties One Yorkshire derby 29-10, suffered ankle injuries to winger Jake Green (in the act of scoring) and full-back Callum Smith.

Salem’s head coach Neil Spence admitted: “We are disappointed with the result as we thought that it would be a closer game, although they are second in the league and unbeaten in five.

“We always knew that it would be tough with it being a derby, but they seemed to want it more than us and were the better side so our (lack of) want was disappointing.

“They were better than us at the breakdown, so our clearing out there and looking after the ball is something that we need work on this week.

“When we got into our shape, when we got into our pattern, we looked dangerous, but we just didn’t do it enough.

“Potentially some of the decisions went against us, but we should manage that.”

Salem got themselves back into the contest at 19-10 down just after the hour mark but then allowed Keighley to reclaim their kick-off, and Spence admitted: “We need to do better than that.”

Spence struggled to look for positives from the afternoon, but confessed: “We are going to stick together, we are going to build together and it is not the end of the world.

“We have just had two good wins and maybe we were a little bit too confident going into the match. The half-time score probably flattered us a little bit but we will try and win next week (at home to Leodiensian).”

The hosts went into half-time leading 8-0 via a penalty from Alex Brown and a try by full-back Alfie Seeley, after winger Alan Ebbrell had entered the line at pace.

Salem made a triple change in the 35th minute, but found themselves 11-0 adrift a minute into the second half when Brown slotted another penalty.

The visitors then failed to profit from a five-metre scrum, but soon after, their hooker James Brown scored down the blindside without a hand being laid on him.

Another Alex Brown penalty then stretched Keighley’s lead to 14-5 after 50 minutes before Christian Baines was sin-binned for a no-arms tackle.

The hosts took advantage with a try on the left via winger Ben Parkinson in the 55th minute, but Salem countered, with Green going over after good work by replacement Xander McConville and Smith.

The latter’s conversion hit the crossbar and bounced out, and that proved the visitors’ high-water mark, as Seeley’s second try sandwiched the double dismissals.

Keighley’s head coach Dan McGee said: “Derby day was always going to be a big game and emotions can sometimes get the better of you but we dug in, rode their purple patches and kept true to our game.

“I would have taken a 3-0 victory to be honest but we played some good rugby.

“I wasn’t disappointed at half-time to be only 8-0 ahead because I thought that it reflected the game.

“They had some chances and we did and it was a very tight game, very physical, but at half-time our lads knew that they had more in them and that we could push on.

“We tried to push at the end for a four-try bonus point and didn’t get it, and that could be important, but I was happy with a win and four points.

“That we kept our heads was pleasing and we kept on the right side of the referee.

“Their two red cards and a yellow card showed how they played - on the edge - and you are sometimes going to find yourself on the wrong side of things if you do that.”

The exchanges between the two sets of supporters were fiery at times, which only whets the appetite for the return fixture at Shay Lane in January.