DOUBLES are rare in a sporting season; trebles are even rarer.

Bradford Salem have achieved many great things in their 100-year history, including winning at Twickenham in successive years.

But have they ever topped what they have achieved in 2023-24 - winning the Counties One Yorkshire league title, the Papa John’s Community Cup Counties One North Plate against Aldwinians at Darlington’s Mowden Park and now, the weekend after, the Yorkshire Shield?

That is extremely doubtful.

Salem’s head coach Bob Hood, who is thinking of changing his name to treble-winning Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola by deed poll, has done many notable things in his coaching career, but said: “Because I have never achieved a treble before this has to be right at the top.

“I have been lucky enough to be involved in some good squads who have achieved doubles and promotions, but this is unprecedented.”

However, everything has not always gone smoothly as Salem were beaten 53-24 at home by West Leeds in the first league game of their season and two weeks later lost again at Shay Lane, this time by 38-24 to Wetherby.

Hood confessed: “If you had asked me the question in September, I would have thought that you were an alien from another planet, but the boys as a group have absolutely progressed and this is fantastic, a great day for Bradford Salem.

“We needed to create an environment and a culture first, and then it is giving them a framework to work within, and they have taken to it like ducks to water and they couldn’t get enough information.”

As for defeating derby rivals Keighley on Yorkshire RFU finals day at Doncaster RUFC, Hood said: “We had a very good first half and we started well in the second half, but faded away a little bit due to disruption with two yellow cards and a couple of injuries in the last 20 minutes.

“However, we had won the game by then and if you look at the smiles on the players’ faces and they will remember this for the rest of their lives.

“Now we look forward to next season.”

On another sunny day at Doncaster, Salem banished the memories of their shock defeat in last season’s Shield final by 28-22 to Baildon.

Keighley moved Alex Brown to full back, giving Fin Meegan the No.10 shirt, but were missing Ollie Snowden in the back row.

They also had to bring John Gibson into the front row for a rare appearance after ankle and knee issues last autumn had ruined his season.

Snowden’s replacement Adam Kemp showed bravery and athleticism to collect Keighley’s kick-off in mid-air, but Salem, who included four South Sea islanders in their squad, soon shifted through the gears.

No.8 Tom Cummins’ ninth-minute kick down the right touchline just evaded left winger Josh Charnock’s attempt to dive on the ball, but the Bradford side were ahead a minute later when right winger Adrea Vasuitoga exchanged passes with Ben Whitaker to put the lock over, with full back Danny Belcher landing the conversion.

In the 14th minute, hooker James Brown got on the end of a strong forward push to score a try, making him the leading try-scorer for Salem’s first XV this season with 13, edging out Jake Green, Belcher’s kick making it 14-0.

However, a sublime offload by lock Ed Keighley gave Gibson a try four minutes later, with Brown’s conversion halving the deficit.

But Salem got the crucial third try in the 21st minute when Pauli Pauli’s strong run gave fellow centre Suaia Matagi the chance to score, Belcher again converting.

That score seemed pivotal to the outcome of the game, Keighley temporarily losing flanker Max Wild to a facial injury soon after in what was an attritional contest regarding injuries.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: An injury to Max Wild (6) did not help Keighley's cause in Doncaster.An injury to Max Wild (6) did not help Keighley's cause in Doncaster. (Image: John Ashton.)

Meegan’s diagonal kick then put Keighley on the front foot, and Salem were soon penalised for collapsing a maul, but Wild was inches short of scoring a try after reaching for the line.

Keighley centre Sean Kelly was yellow carded by referee Andy Williamson for being off his feet in the 38th minute, with Keighley feeling that Salem had got away with three high tackles prior to the sin-binning.

Then, just before half-time, Pauli scored a try which Belcher converted, taking the lead to 28-7 as Keighley full back Alfie Seeley watched on from the sidelines, having come off with an ankle injury.

Salem stretched their advantage with a close-in try from skipper and flanker Christian Baines four minutes into the second half, with Charnock then just being unable to touch down a kick ahead, injuring his ribs in the process.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Salem skipper Christian Baines grabbed his customary try in his side's final triumph.Salem skipper Christian Baines grabbed his customary try in his side's final triumph. (Image: JT Sports Media.)

There was no stopping the treble seekers, however, with centre Conor Wood scoring in the 51st minute after good work by Vasuitoga, and scrum half Callum Smith then almost adding to the tally after a chip and chase.

But Keighley had the better of the final 20 minutes, something that made head coach Danny McGee proud.

Replacement Lucas Uren scored for them in the 61st minute and, after the sin-binnings of Salem replacement Richard Langhorn and Cummins in the 77th and 79th minutes, Keighley centre Taylor Prell grabbed a try in the last knockings to make it 40-19.