Bradford Salem head coach Bob Hood was left a frustrated man after a rather scrappy Counties One Yorkshire affair on Saturday that saw his side lose 31-17 at Hullensians.

Despite going into the game missing six regulars due to injury or unavailability, Hood felt the side selected could have achieved a positive result if they had played to their potential, but they fell well short.

Hullensians dominated the early exchanges but a combination of resolute Salem defence and sloppy handling by the hosts kept the game scoreless.

Salem made the first meaningful entry into the Hullensians half after 15 minutes with a forward drive led by stand-in skipper James Brown and a good touch kick from Andy Robinson.

Salem went for a catch and drive but were thwarted when Hullensians pulled the maul down.

The referee only awarded a scrum but more strong work from the Salem pack enabled scrum-half Kyle Carter to dummy his way over the line for the opening try, which Dan Belcher was unable to convert.

Hullensians were soon back on the attack, and after a dominant scrum on the 22m line, scrum-half Callum Bagless sliced through the Salem defence to score by the posts.

Goal kicking second-row forward George Cooke added the extras.

The game became quite end to end, with Salem full-back Callum Smith calling a good mark from a high kick and then launching a superb kick which bounced into touch on the Hullensians 22m line.

From the resultant lineout, Ben Whitaker made good ground and then swift hands from the Salem three-quarters put Jake Green over for an unconverted try.

Hullensians regained the lead on the half hour after a strong attack down their right flank put centre Macauley Hallett in the clear.

Although he appeared to have been tackled just short of the line, he scrambled to his feet and dived over the whitewash. Despite strong protests from Salem the try was allowed to stand.

Leading up to half-time, Salem were under intense pressure and despite doing well to keep their line intact, they suffered a series of blows which influenced the final outcome of the game.

First after an accidental clash of heads in midfield meant centre Belcher and flanker Morgan Mirzaali were both forced to leave the field, the former with blood streaming from a cut around the eye.

Then, after a series of penalty awards in favour of the hosts, prop Isaac Lickley was yellow-carded for dissent.

As he was trudging off the field at one side, full-back Smith was being helped off with a dead leg.

Salem were still in the game at only 12-10 down at the interval and head coach Hood said he was proud of the spirit shown by his charges in the first half.

But he had good reason to be disappointed with a second half which was littered with unforced errors and some questionable refereeing decisions.

Salem kept Hullensians out until the midway point of the second half, despite being a man down for the first 10 minutes and having forwards Elliot Cousins and Mirzaali in the centres.

However, on the hour mark, centre Hallett crossed for his second try wide on the right and Cooke landed a good conversion.  

Hullensians had their tails up and an attack from their own half set speedy winger Harrison Holmes free on the right.

He outpaced the cover and although he was tackled by Logan Simpson just short of the line, he managed to regain his feet and dive over the line for an unconverted try.

Salem suffered a further blow when second row Whitaker left the field with a shoulder injury, although Smith was deemed fit enough to replace him.

A spirited response from Salem saw Simpson go close down the right flank, before Cousins was just unable to gather a difficult inside pass with the line beckoning.

Not to be denied, a good kick and chase from Josh Charnock down the left was well finished by Carter, who showed pace and strength to get over near the posts, with Green adding the extras.

The final passage of play summed up the half as Salem made a mess of dealing with the restart kick and Hullensians then struggled to take advantage.

But eventually, their man of the match Cooke made a strong crossfield run behind several of his own players to force his way over in the corner.

Despite protests from the Salem players, the try was awarded and Cooke then rubbed salt into the wounds with an excellent touchline conversion.

With no game next week due to the Rugby World Cup Final, Salem will be hoping most of their injured players will be fit for the next game, a local derby against Keighley at Shay Lane in two weeks’ time.