BRADFORD Salem have the chance to make 2024 a year to remember, having put themselves in a strong position to challenge for promotion in Counties One Yorkshire at the turn of the new year.

They currently occupy 3rd spot in the division, a position they haven’t occupied all that much in recent years, particularly at the halfway point of the season.

However, there’s a different energy and belief within the camp this time around, with manager Bob Hood, who took over the reigns in the summer, overseeing proceedings, and his experience and knowhow is gradually rubbing off on his much-improved squad.

Starting today, with a trip to promotion rivals Pocklington, Hood has urged his side not to rest on their laurels after a fantastic start to the 23/24 campaign.

He said: “I’ve been delighted with the way the players have responded to my coaching methods since I arrived in the summer; they haven’t blinked and they’ve been extremely supportive. This is always the way to go when you want to produce an exciting brand of rugby.

“I can’t think of many games where we haven’t score three or more tries, which is a great foundation to build on. We know it will take time to get to where we want to be; it might take a season or two, but we are certainly on the way.”

Hood added: “That being said, it’s massive that we now push on in the second half of the season. We’ve reached our mid-season goal of 40 points, and we’ve got ourselves in a very good position, so it’s absolutely imperative that we build on the foundations we have set instead of regressing.”

Salem have won their last six league fixtures, one of them being a walkover victory, and they travel to Pocklington today, which will be no easy feat.

Saturday’s hosts occupy 5th spot in the division and sit only five points behind Salem, so this weekend presents them with a brilliant opportunity to close the gap between themselves and the visitors.

A victory for Salem at their promotion rivals this weekend would signal huge statement of intent, admitted Hood.

He said: “Out of the teams at the top of the league, we’ve got one of the hardest run-ins and that run starts this weekend at Pocklington. It’s a very challenging place to go and if we don’t show up and put a strong performance in, then we’ll get beat. However, if we go to Pocklington with the intent that we’ve set out this season, then, if we keep the squad together and injury free, I think we can really push on and look to target a total of 70 to 80 points, which might just be enough.”