BAILDON, denied promotion from Counties Two Yorkshire by a national slide rule, have found wonderful consolation in winning the Yorkshire Shield.

They defeated Counties One Yorkshire foes Bradford Salem 28-22 in a topsy-turvy decider at Doncaster RUFC, with Salem being ahead for 36 minutes of a pulsating final.

“In some ways it is even better than Twickenham,” said Baildon’s Jake Duxbury, harking back to their 6-3 RFU Junior Vase victory over Harrow at HQ in 2012.

How much of that was down to defeating one of their city rivals and how much was down to winning the magnificent shield for the first time – they won the lower-grade Yorkshire Silver Trophy final against Wibsey in 1999 at Wagon Lane in the last all-Bradford Yorkshire final – is open to conjecture.

Centre Andy Robinson, one of two ex-Salem players in the Baildon line-up, said: “It was a tough game in warm conditions, and we tried to move that ball around, as we had done in training.

“We wanted to play off the back of our forwards and try to find an edge, and at times it worked but we stuck at it and got the win.

“We had talked about not getting too far behind early on (Baildon trailed 12-0 after 19 minutes) but we said if we stick to what we have done all season then we would come away with a trophy.”

Salem also led 15-13 on the hour, and Robinson confessed: “Salem have some really experienced players and I thought they would have seen the game out, but we got some breaks and some 50-50 calls went our way.”

Robinson added: “These Baildon players never up, they fight for the club, and that paid dividends, but we nearly gave them a chance at the end to march us down the field and win it.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Andy Robinson (ball in hand) and Jake Duxbury had to use all of their experience to help Baildon get over the line against Salem in Doncaster.Andy Robinson (ball in hand) and Jake Duxbury had to use all of their experience to help Baildon get over the line against Salem in Doncaster. (Image: Mick Massey)

Defeat proved a damp squib to the tenure of Salem’s coaching duo of Neil Spence and Glenn Morrison, who will be replaced by Bob Hood next season.

Spence said: “We came here with high hopes of victory against a Baildon team who play in the league below, but they should not be in the league below, only losing out on points difference, and they showed that.

“They can compete in Yorkshire One and hopefully we will see them up there with Salem (in 2024-25), but we gained a 12-0 lead and our confidence was a bit too high.

“We lacked a bit of composure in the second half and thought it was going to be too easy but Baildon never stopped and showed that they wanted it a bit more than us, and the kicking from Jake was exceptional.

“I am not too sure what the future holds but Glenn and myself work well together, get on well together, have the same philosophy, he is a good friend and we are open to offers.

“If nothing happens then I will take some time out but what happened to us was a big shock to us both.

“We have taken the club to a better place than it was seven years ago when I took over.”

The danger to Baildon was that they would be blown away by Salem’s physical approach early doors, and a cute kick by fly half Sam Allan almost put centre Clayden Paranihi over inside five minutes.

Baildon flanker and club captain Harrison Strauss then went off with a jaw injury, and Robinson was sin-binned for a high tackle on Salem winger Jake Green.

While the former Wibsey and Salem player was off the field, Salem scored 12 points – from tries by Allan, after a drive by flanker Tom Cummins, and centre Nick Fontaine, after a wicked Allan spiral kick that Duxbury fumbled, with Allan converting the first try.

Baildon also lost hooker Matty Dixon to a dislocated shoulder, but while he was being attended to, Duxbury kicked a penalty and added another just before half-time to make it 12-6.

Fortune then favoured Baildon two minutes into the second half as referee Matt Higgins missed a knock-on by centre Conor Wood in the build-up to winger Luke Strauss’ try, Duxbury converting to put Baildon 13-12 ahead.

Little happened for the next 15 minutes until Green landed a penalty when Baildon were offside, putting his team back in the lead.

Duxbury’s penalty from just inside the halfway line put the Red and Blacks in front again in the 67th minute, and he and Robinson then kicked for territory, meaning that if Salem were going to score they would have to do it from deep.

With 10 minutes left, Baildon pinched an overthrown line-out in Salem’s 22 for replacement Adam France to score, with Duxbury’s conversion putting them more than a score in front at 23-15.

Scrum-half Tom Parnell then reached high to grab an astute Duxbury grubber to score in the corner three minutes later, but Cummins ratcheted up the tension by scoring a try in the 79th minute, Green’s conversion making it 28-22.

Salem knew that a converted try would win it and they regained their kick-off and won a penalty.

But Baildon’s injury-time defence was up to scratch and they had won the very heavy and very impressive Yorkshire Shield for the first time, defeating four-times winners Salem.