Selby RUFC 15 - 11 Bradford Salem RFC
By Stephen Ward
Selby off the mark with a 4 point win after an impressive second half fight-back.
Selby RUFC 15 – 11 Bradford Salem RFC
Report by Ian Marlow
Selby grabbed their first league win of the season at their second attempt, staging a dramatic late fightback to snatch victory away from Bradford Salem in a bruising and entertaining game at Sandhill Lane. And with the Swans’ second, third and fourth teams also registering wins against sundry clubs, it was a pitch-side perfect Saturday for the whole club.
The corresponding fixture against Salem last season was a bone crunching contest as both teams went at each other hammer and tongs and this match was a similar affair. What was also similar was a characteristic of the Salem tackling to be, let us say, of a slightly high nature on occasions; and while Selby fortunately didn’t suffer the three concussion protocol cases that they did from this game last year, they did benefit from a number of penalties and yellow cards gifted to them by Salem who obviously haven’t managed to work out the problem yet - even with the help of the referee giving them plenty of clues. Or maybe they just don’t care?
The first high tackle penalty after five minutes gave Alex Webster the chance to open Selby’s account, but he was wide before a couple of Selby infringements gave Bradford the chance themselves to open up a 0-3 lead. Selby then struggled to hold onto any decent possession, allowing Salem good field positions and after twenty minutes they worked a simple but expert overlap down the left wing for a try and 0-8 lead. With Selby’s scrum recovered after the previous week’s mauling at Heath, the Swans had plenty of possessions themselves but, even with Salem down a man after a yellow for (yes you’ve guessed it) another high tackle, Selby continued to misfire as chances went begging on the Salem line. The midfield tackle-fest continue unabated though, and then it was Selby’s turn to be a bit thick as two totally unnecessary yellow cards quickly followed, together with another for Salem for (yes you’ve guessed it again) yet another high tackle, before the half ended with Salem well on top and controlling proceedings.
After strong words from coach Steve Cruise, Selby started the second half much more purposefully and a great break out of defence by hooker Joe Raddings, carried on by Ashton Dallimore, looked to have put Selby in under the sticks for a fine try - until the spoilsport referee proved he had finer, not to mention nearer, eyesight than the Selby grandstand in spotting a previously undetected forward pass to spoil the party. Still, a Webster penalty soon after mitigated the disappointment before Salem returned the favour to reinstate the two scores difference with a 3-11 lead to the Bradfordians.
And so the die seemed to be cast, with Salem cruising to victory and with this correspondent preparing to write about Selby’s undoubted spirit and effort, but lack of rugby nous in being able to turn possession into territory and points. However, things suddenly and unexpectedly turned completely in Selby’s favour in the last fifteen minutes, as they grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and simply and comprehensively overran Salem in every aspect. Selby’s pack became completely dominant - but with the good ball they secured now beginning to stick and with Selby playing through the phases, Salem’s previously watertight defence began to creak and leak before a bulldozing run up the middle by Liam Hogan split it apart completely. The ball was quickly recycled to Sam Broughton who found a deft little pass to send second rower Stephen Clark charging in under the posts to reduce the deficit to a single point. Straight back on the offensive came Selby and were soon on the Salem line again, where the forwards battered away until prop Millar McCoy burrowed his way over in the corner to take the lead 15-11 with five minutes to go. Such was the Swans’ dominance that the Selby massive were even denied their customary joy of watching, usually through their fingers, as Selby hang on desperately for the final whistle – but not this time as Selby played the game out comfortably, competently, and even boringly without any drama, to leave Salem stunned and Selby ecstatic.
Selby now travel away to Dinnington on Saturday for their third league fixture and hopefully this young team (some members excepted) will have started to learn the lesson that possession means points, mean prizes!