Yorkshire Division One: Bradford Salem 7 Keighley 34

A BAD afternoon that included former England international Dan Scarbrough being put in a neck brace before being taken off on a stretcher got even worse for Bradford Salem after the final whistle.

While the players were shaking hands, home winger Jake Abram showed dissent to referee Tony Smith (West Yorkshire Society) and was sent off.

Former Aireborough centre Smith explained: “Salem’s No 11 came right up to my face and said ‘You are a disgrace to rugby’.

“That is referee abuse so I showed him a straight red card.”

Salem, who need some wins to give themselves breathing space as they sit uncomfortably near the relegation places, only really threatened in the opening ten minutes of the second half.

Apart from having Abram sent off after the final whistle, Salem also had their man of the match, No 8 Christian Baines, yellow carded, while Keighley had hooker Joe Kaye sent to the cooler for ten minutes, both in the second half.

Keighley skipper and man of the match Alex Brown, whose pin-point cross-kicks set up two tries for right winger Jake Duxbury, said: “We gave a very professional performance on the back of a great week’s training, and we did everything that we had talked about, such as being physical early on, playing in the right areas and putting them under pressure.

“Also our discipline was very, very important, and there must have been five occasions in the match when the referee spoke to both captains.

“We expected them to come out strong in the second half, and they made it difficult for us, but we weathered that.”

Salem skipper Harry Hall said: “I spoke to the referee more than I do to my girlfriend!

“We only really played for ten minutes at the end of the first half and for ten minutes at the start of the second half, but then we gave two penalties away in the second half and were back in our 22.

“We were not helped by losing scrum half James Simpson to illness before the match and then losing Dan injured in the first half.”

Scarborough, who has had a similar injury in the past, was taken to Bradford Royal Infirmary initially before being transferred to Leeds General Infirmary, where he was assessed by their neurological unit and released before going back to Salem’s clubhouse.

Keighley climbed above Moortown into seventh, but Salem remain 11th, just ten points above safety, and Hall said: “It makes next week’s match at Selby (who are bottom) a must win.”

On a pitch that had dealt with the week’s heavy rain well and in front of a crowd of over 200, Brown’s first telling cross-kick to the right-hand corner at the Heaton Woods end of the pitch brought Duxbury his initial try in the 16th minute.

Four minutes later, visiting centre Sean Kelly shaped to pass outside him but went through himself past some flimsy tackling, Brown converting from nine metres in from the right touchline.

Quick hands put left winger Joe Copperwaite over for the third try in the 26th minute, and then came a five-minute delay when Scarbrough was treated, with Salem prop Gundars Griekis having been penalised for a transgression after the initial penalty had gone in the home side’s favour.

When play resumed, a pass by Salem’s Sam Savage to Andy Robinson went astray, gifting Kelly his second try, with Brown’s conversion making it 24-0.

Salem, who replaced Scarbrough with Robinson, who had been unable to train in midweek due to flu, needed a quick response in the second half, which was scrappy in essence.

They got it four minutes after the interval when Baines went over on the right, with fly half Callum Armstrong tagging on the conversion.

Kaye was sin-binned in the 47th minute for a high tackle on Savage, but Salem failed to capitalise when Savage high tackled Alfie Seeley a minute later, Brown hitting the outside of the post with the kick at goal.

In the 51st minute, Brown stroked over an easier attempt before hitting the outside of the same post eight minutes later with another penalty attempt that narrowly failed.

Brown’s accurate cross-kick put Duxbury in for his second try in the 65th minute, Brown’s conversion making it 34-7.

A Brown cross-kick almost brought a third try seven minutes later before Baines was sin-binned for use of an elbow in the 75th minute.

Then came the bizarre ending with Abram’s dismissal after the final whistle.