Bradford Salem RFC 39 - 36 Selby RUFC
By Stephen Ward
Selby just fall short of victory.
Bradford Salem RFC 39 – 36 Selby RUFC
Report by Ian Marlow
On the resumption of league rugby after the Christmas break, Selby fought back from 0-22 down to ultimately fall just short of victory in an entertaining and peculiar game away at Bradford Salem. And, while the eventual two bonus points gained were a worthy (and at one point) unlikely reward, they may come to rue the extra three points they allowed to get away; particularly with teams below them in the league registering some impressive wins.
Both teams showed rustiness in the opening exchanges and the numerous errors seemed to open up the game as both teams had attacking chances before a needless Selby penalty gave Salem an easy chance to go for the corner line out – and their pack made no mistake steamrollering their way over some worryingly poor Selby defence for the opening try. Selby were then very poor for the next twenty minutes, unable to hold onto any ball and conceding errors and penalties galore allowing Salem’s confidence, and performance, to improve consequently - and they ran in another two tries and kicked a penalty for a 0-22 lead after 25 minutes.
With Selby looking dead and buried the introduction of Sam Broughton from the subs bench immediately perked them up and aided by fellow back-rower Eddie Brown, who had a great game throughout, Selby were suddenly going forward and back in the hunt. A bruising Broughton charge to the line was stopped illegally, according to Mr Referee, and a penalty try awarded to the Swans to close the gap by seven before James Robinson immediately handed advantage back to Salem with another needless yellow card. No matter though as, with Salem pressing their advantage on the Selby line, skipper Charlie Cicero turned the ball over and sped away up the left wing before finding the supporting Brown who turned on the afterburners to race in from half way for a superb try. So, 22-14 now and game right back on - however Selby’s seemingly inherent inability to manage the ball resurfaced as they lost possession in their own 22 from the restart allowing Salem to expertly move the ball wide to where Selby’s missing Robinson should have been for an immediate reply and a 29-14 half time score.
Back into game came Selby with an early second half try as Harry Cruise put Broughton clear down the right wing - where the blonde bombshell belied his post-Christmas portliness with a surprising burst of speed and power as he flattened a couple of defenders to score in the corner. Better was to follow as another fine break from Brown sent winger Matthew Leetham on his way to beat his man and score in the opposite corner for a 29-24 score-line. Back came Salem though as pressure of their own earned them a penalty and another three points before Selby, benefitting from an unsighted referee who failed to see their own knock on, sent Leetham away again for another fine try, superbly converted by Scott Hunt for 32-31 with ten minutes to go.
Alas, Selby’s kick receipt problems immediately resurfaced and after being gifted easy possession Salem took advantage to cross for another good try and stretch away to 39-31. With time now running out for an extra losing bonus point, a great break from deep by Harry Clarke, and that man again Brown, established good field position - and when the ball was moved across the back line Leetham forewent his chance of a hat trick to send Clarke in for another fine try in the corner for a final score of 39-36.
Selby are now at home to Dinnington on Saturday and with relegation pressure now firmly on them they will be hoping for a more consistent performance to register their first win for quite some time.