BRADFORD Salem head coach Bob Hood is licking his lips at the prospect of Keighley coming to Shay Lane for a Counties One Yorkshire derby tomorrow afternoon.

He admitted a “different mood” has taken hold in training, for the latest instalment of what he called “a massive rivalry”.

Salem recorded a draw and a defeat in last year’s fixtures against Keighley, but if revenge and bragging rights were not already enough of an incentive, a bonus point home win will take Hood’s side level on points in the table with their visitors.

Previewing the derby, the Salem boss told the T&A: “It’s absolutely an exciting occasion to look forward to.

“There’s been a different mood in training leading up to the game, as it’s a massive rivalry we have with Keighley.

“It’s going to be a physical encounter and there’ll be lots of people there watching.”

He added: “Last season we lost quite heavily at their place and drew with them at home.

“That meant they took the honours and we don’t want that to happen again.”

In a fascinating division, no-one is unbeaten after seven games, and Salem could jump up from seventh to third if they beat Keighley and other results go their way.

Hood said: “It’s a very good and very competitive league and we’re all capable of beating each other.

“West Leeds are top, but they’ve lost a game now and Keighley and Wetherby (arguably the two other title favourites) have both been beaten twice.

“It’s going to be an interesting season and I think the team that wins the league and guarantees themselves promotion will be the one that’s the most consistent.

“The key to that is probably going to be keeping as many of their players as fit as possible.”

Salem did not have that luxury in their last game, as they lost 31-17 at struggling Hullensians in trying circumstances.

Hood said: “We had 10 players unavailable for the game anyway, and even though we had a reasonably strong line up still going over there, we couldn’t catch a break during the match.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Salem skipper Christian Baines was one of those absent for the trip to Hullensians last month.Salem skipper Christian Baines was one of those absent for the trip to Hullensians last month. (Image: JT Sports Media.)

“We lost Danny Belcher to a nasty injury after a clash of heads, saw Isaac Lickley sin-binned, and then had a couple more players go off with injury.

“Hullensians played really well, but we allowed them to, and you’ll struggle if you let that happen against any well-organised team like them.

“But we’ve regrouped over the last couple of weeks since then, and worked on the areas we struggled in.

“We should also have a stronger group of players to select from.”

Salem had won three games on the spin before that defeat, including their first home victories of the season, against Pocklington and Harrogate Pythons.

Hood said: “There were reasons for losing our opening two home games (against West Leeds and Wetherby), as they were the top two at the time and we were really struggling personnel-wise back then.

“We have quite a shallow squad, but people have been returning and we’ve already beaten Beverley, which is the first time Salem have ever won at their place.

“I’m a great process person and I believe if we can get the performances right, which we’re starting to, the results will follow off the back of those.”