AFTER waiting 43 years for their first ever victory at Beverley (17-12 scoreline) on 9 September 2023, Bradford Salem didn't have to wait long for their second as they returned to Beaver Park for a Yorkshire Shield quarter-final tie.

The tone was set when, straight from kick-off, Salem skipper and Number 8, Christian Baines, tore through Beverley's midfield defence in a punishing run. The ball was then moved wide to winger Aaron Magee who showed great speed, strength and footwork as he left several defenders trailing in his wake, before going over the try-line to give the visitors a dream start; fly half Andy Robinson adding the extras for a 7-0 lead after just two minutes.  

Indiscipline from the Salem players allowed Beverley skipper Rob Smith to kick two penalties to reduce the deficit to 7-6 and, with 15 minutes gone, the Bradford side received a big blow when Baines was sin-binned for a high-shot.

However, Salem were undeterred by this set-back, and, incredibly, they scored two tries despite being reduced to 14 men. The first of these came when a good take in the line by flanker Morgan Mirzaali was driven on by the forwards and hooker James Brown then powered his way over the line to put the visitors 12-6 ahead.

Then two minutes later, prop Conor Wood broke through the midfield on a trademark barnstorming run before passing to the supporting Sui Matagi who outpaced the cover defence to dot down under sticks, while Robinson landed the simple conversion to extend the lead to 19-6.

Beverley had a lucky escape when referee Gavin Pender failed to see second rower Jack Houseman make direct contact with the head of Josh Charnock, which would have almost certainly resulted in a red card. Thankfully, Salem's brave young winger got straight to his feet, but he was forced to leave the field with a broken and bloodied nose and was replaced by veteran Sam Gardner.

With just under ten minutes of the first half remaining, Beverley hit back to score the try of the game when a mistake by Salem enabled the hosts to launch a counter attack from inside their own 22. Ever-dangerous full back Luke Hazell sprinted 40 metres downfield before sending fellow speedster Jake Boardman scorching over for a try which Smith converted to get the home side back to within a score at 19-13.

However, Salem responded positively, and following a good run by man of the match Magee and a strong carry by Baines, Wood crashed through some flaky defending to score an excellent try. Robinson added the conversion to give the Heaton side a 26-13 advantage at the break.

Some telling runs from Magee and Logan Simpson early in the second half got Salem back on the attack, and, from a Ben Whitaker take at a ten-metre line-out, Brown was once again on the end of a powerful driving maul to score his second try for a 31-13 lead.

From this point on, Salem were very much on top and Beverley were clearly finding it increasingly difficult to contain the powerful Matagi, Wood and the forward pack in general.

With just over five minutes left on the clock, the pressure began to tell and second rowers Ian Maycock and Whitaker took advantage of some tired looking Beverley defending as they both powered their way over for tries, one of which Robinson improved, to seal an emphatic 43-13 victory.

Salem's reward is a semi-final tie away at Wensleydale, who they also visit in the league this Saturday, on 9 March 2024.