BRADFORD Salem withstood a first-half comeback by Bradford Grammar School Old Boys to win the 28th Richard Birkett Memorial Match at Shay Lane.

The hosts went into a 12-0 lead courtesy of tries by Andy Robinson and Tom Hopper, with Wibsey’s Robinson converting his own effort, but they needed a Dom Walker try to be level at 17-17 by half-time.

The old boys’ man of the match Isaac Green (2) and Tom Handy responded with tries, with Green’s second being converted by Sam Murphy, and it looked like the old boys’ younger legs would enable them to hold sway in the second half.

However, inspired by Salem’s man of the match Richard Tafa, the former Bradford & Bingley player who is now playing for York RI, the hosts rather ran away with it to triumph 55-41.

Tafa scored two and laid one on a plate for Dom Watson, and further tries came from Walker, the lively Jacob Smillie and Will Collins, plus conversions by Tafa, Smillie, Collins and Watson.

Trailing 41-17 at one point, the old boys, for whom 40-something Bradford Grammar School teachers Dan Scarbrough (England RU) and Glenn Morrison (Bradford Bulls, Wakefield Trinity and several NRL clubs) showed their abilities, again hit back.

Luke Sandiford, Murphy, Morrison and Harry Bolland bagged tries, with conversions coming from Sandiford and Bolland.

The match, in memory of Salem stalwart Richard Birkett, was watched by a healthy crowd and was played in a competitive spirit that never tipped over into anything underhand.

Birkett, a former BGS old boy who rightly earned the nickname ‘Mr Salem’ (a title that has been inherited by Neil Klenk), died in August 1992 and his widow Marilyn Blunsom presented the trophy to Salem skipper Jake Green in the clubhouse.

It was Salem’s 17th success, with the old boys having won 10 and one match being drawn.