In the first ever meeting between the two clubs, Bradford Salem scored four first half tries to pave their way to a 36-22 victory over Harrogate Pythons in Counties One Yorkshire.

Holding a commanding 36-10 lead with 30 minutes remaining, Salem had a big opportunity to improve their overall points difference but failed to turn the screw, allowing their plucky opponents to stage a late second half comeback.

But after claiming victory and a try bonus point to move up to fifth in the table, it was still a job well done for Bob Hood’s side.

In breezy conditions at Shay Lane, Pythons soon had Salem's scrum under pressure and a penalty from scrum half Will Clough gave the visitors a 3-0 lead after five minutes.  

Pythons continued to press in the opening quarter and it needed some last ditch tackling from Salem to keep them out.

However, with 20 minutes gone, Salem took a 5-3 lead when a superb break down the right wing by hooker and man of the match, James Brown, was finished off by supporting scrum half Kyle Carter.

The next 10 minutes belonged to Salem and punishing runs by Conor Wood, Christian Baines and Sui Matagi got the hosts deep into opposition territory.

Then, after flanker Morgan Mirzaali went close, second rower Ben Whitaker was on hand to drive over for a try, which full-back Callum Smith improved to put the Bradford side 12-3 in front.

Pythons responded well and it needed good tackles from Baines and Fin Southcott to stem the tide.

However, Baines was then guilty of a high shot, and, from the resulting penalty, some uncustomary slack defending from Salem allowed Pythons to score a converted try to reduce the deficit to 12-10.

Salem hit back almost immediately and Baines made up for his earlier misdemeanour when he scored from a catch and drive, Smith adding the extras to put the home side 19-10 ahead.

With half -time approaching, the hosts extended their advantage to 16 points when another telling run from Matagi got Salem back on the attack.

Subsequent slick handling created an excellent try for winger Josh Charnock, with Smith's third consecutive conversion giving the Heaton side a healthy 26-10 lead at the break.

With just under 10 minutes of the second half played, strong carries from Baines, Matagi and Tom Cummins got Salem to within striking distance, and, with Pythons forced into defending their line, Wood showed his strength and power to swat off several would-be tacklers on his way to the line to make the score 31-10.

Salem continued to dominate and following a clean take by Southcott at a line-out, both Ed Cook and Whitaker went close before Matagi powered his way over the line.

However, the Salem players went off the boil at 36-10 up and their lack of discipline forced referee, David Downham into awarding a string of penalties against them.

To their credit, Pythons took full advantage and registered two tries, one improved by Clough, in the final quarter to make the score more respectable.

Salem visit struggling Hullensians in their next league match on Saturday.