Bradford Salem are up to third in Counties One Yorkshire after recording their first ever win at Grange Park by beating Wetherby 20-14 on Saturday.

Salem leapfrogged their hosts in the table in the process, and owed their victory to a near faultless display in the opening 35 minutes, when they scored three tries to take a commanding 20-0 lead.

They nearly shot themselves in the foot, after conceding two penalty tries, but they held on to claim a magnificent victory, heading into the Christmas break with their promotion dreams very much still alive.

Salem suffered an early setback on Saturday when second rower Dom Bailey was forced to leave the field after just two minutes and was replaced by Fin Southcott.

However, this seemed to have little effect as strong carries from Sui Matagi and Conor Wood soon got the visitors to within striking distance.

Then, when Wetherby were penalised, winger Jake Green stroked the ball through the uprights to give his side a 3-0 lead after nine minutes.

Salem were back on the attack immediately from the restart, and, following another Wood carry and offload, the ball was moved wide to winger Aaron Magee.

He showed a good turn of speed to score under the posts, with Green adding the simple conversion to put his side 10-0 ahead with 13 minutes gone.

The Bradford players were brimming in confidence at this stage and they extended their advantage to 15 points when hooker James Brown charged down an attempted clearance kick before regathering the loose ball to score in the left corner.

Salem continued to dominate and more punishing runs from Matagi, Wood and Christian Baines got them deep into opposition territory.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Christian Baines (ball in hand) was a key figure in Salem's dominant first half at Wetherby.Christian Baines (ball in hand) was a key figure in Salem's dominant first half at Wetherby. (Image: JT Sports Media.)

The pressure eventually told as centre Logan Simpson broke free before putting Green over in the corner.

Although Green was unable to improve his own try, with the score now 20-0, the visitors were eyeing up a bonus point win.    

Wetherby, however, had other ideas, and, for the remainder of the half, they were camped on Salem's line.

Following a series of gruelling five-metre scrums, and after Salem had conceded 3 successive penalties, referee Iain Hallam finally lost patience and awarded Wetherby a penalty try to reduce the deficit to 20-7 on the stroke of half-time.

Wetherby were clearly lifted by this score and came out looking like a different team in the second half.

Salem, on the other hand, seemed to completely take their foot off the gas, and, for the rest of the game, they spent most of their time defending.

Now on the back foot, the Bradford players found themselves increasingly on the wrong side the referee with unnecessary backchat resulting in them getting marched back a further 10 metres on four occasions.

The relentless pressure from Wetherby was always likely to tell, so when referee Hallam awarded them a second penalty try and also yellow-carded Matagi, with eight minutes still remaining, the hosts had every chance of stealing victory.

However, Salem's defence somehow held firm and two excellent clearance kicks by man-of the-match Tom Cummins helped to relieve the pressure as the visitors closed out a 20-14 victory.

The win puts Salem just six points behind leaders Keighley, who won 18-6 away to Leodiensian at the weekend.

The chasing pack all have a game in hand on Dan McGee’s side though, with Keighley having played 13 games so far, while the rest of the top five, all genuine title contenders, only on 12.

West Leeds sit three points behind Keighley in second, but they were given a scare by plucky visitors Bradford & Bingley on Saturday.

The Bees are currently bottom, with two wins and 10 defeats, but they fought hard at their West Yorkshire neighbours over the weekend, before eventually losing 37-26.

Baildon, like Keighley and Salem, are very much in a title race themselves.

They are currently fourth in Counties Two Yorkshire, seven points behind leaders Yarnbury, but survived a real scare at the weekend, winning 18-17 at home to lowly Dinnington.

Finally, Cleckheaton sit ninth in the 12-team Regional One North East table, but are only four points off the bottom, following a battling 34-22 defeat at leaders York on Saturday.