BRADFORD Salem began 2023 on a losing note as they slipped to a battling 15-5 defeat at promotion-chasing Goole in Counties One Yorkshire.

On a pitch which stood up well in spite of an earlier heavy downpour, Salem were immediately on the attack following an excellent turnover by prop Xander McConville in the very first play.

The visitors then had a chance to take an early but Jake Green's kickable penalty from 30 metres drifted wide of the uprights.

With just under 10 minutes gone, Goole provided a first glimpse of their attacking prowess and it needed a brilliant last-ditch cover tackle from Sam Allan to prevent them from scoring.

Minutes later, Goole broke the deadlock when scrum half Rhys Moore's well-struck penalty from 45 metres put the hosts 3-0 in front.

A fine turnover by hooker James Brown straight from the restart put Salem on the front foot and a score looked on the cards when Toni Fa made a telling midfield break.

However, the opportunity was missed as the Tongan centre's potential try-scoring pass went over supporting full-back Callum Smith's head and into touch.

With a little over 20 minutes played, there was a big turning point as Moore's attempted penalty from halfway bounced back off the left-hand upright.

Unfortunately, when Salem centre Nick Fontaine knocked on, Green regathered the ball from an offside position, giving referee Patrick Wheeler no option but to award Goole a penalty.

Green was sent to the sin-bin as a result, before a quick tap by Moore then caught Salem unawares and a wide pass created a try in the left corner to put the home side 8-0 ahead.

Straight from the restart, Goole took full advantage of their extra man, and, after breaking out from inside their own half, some brilliant offloading in the tackle led to another try.

Moore improved the score to give the hosts a 15 point lead, which they took into the break.

The first 30 minutes of the second half developed into a bit of an arm-wrestle, with neither side being able to gain the upper-hand.

Salem's cause was not helped when skipper and number eight Christian Baines was sin-binned for a high shot, but, when he returned to fray with 10 minutes remaining, the visitors seemed to suddenly come to life.

With a series of penalties going in their favour, Salem got to within striking distance and swift handling down the blindside gave winger Caleb McConville sufficient space to score in the corner to reduce the arrears to 15-5.

However, it was a case of too little too late as, despite Salem having the lion's share of possession in the closing stages, Goole's defences held firm as they ran out 15-5 winners.

The Bradford side remain eighth in the table, with Goole now two points behind Keighley in second.

Keighley extended their lead at the summit by a point after thrashing Roundhegians 77-24.

It was a bad start to the new year for title-chasing Baildon in Counties Two Yorkshire, as they suffered a surprise 43-26 loss at mid-table North Ribblesdale.

Finally, in Regional Two North East, winless Bradford & Bingley lost 65-21 at leaders Moortown.