Bridlington RUFC’s first team suffered a shock 17-14 loss at Bradford Salem to place a minor dent in their quest for the Yorkshire One title.
On a still, dry day, Brid travelled to Bradford, a team that has caused the Dukes Park side problems in the past.
Brid attacked for the first 10 minutes with Gareth Roberts and Gary Stevens going close, but excellent defence and great kicking kept the visitors out.
A skirmish on 15 minutes, starting from a dangerous tackle on Otis Floyd, which the referee missed, seemed to wake Salem up and they scored from their first attack.
Fly-half Matt Booth, flanker Conor Wood and centre Harry Hall, three of the home team’s best players alongside number eight Christian Baines, combined neatly before Wood had the strength to go over, Booth converting for 7-0.
A penalty soon followed as Brid were penalised for obstruction, Booth slotting it home to make it 10-0.
Brid were on the back foot as Salem’s disruptive tactics and aggressive tackling, sometimes illegal, was frustrating the visitors.
On 20 minutes a clearance kick was returned by Stevens and Bridlington attacked through Roberts and Ryan Nepia, but the ball was dropped with a certain score on.
Brid’s pressure told as Paddy Waines ran hard and earned another breakdown penalty and from the line-out Waines scored, with Roberts converting it for 10-7.
The visitors’ dominance in the scrum was beginning to tell, but they never used it to full advantage, instead inviting Salem to continually disrupt Brid’s midfield with some high or no arm tackles which the ref continued to miss, and give Salem momentum going into the second half.
Jimmy Thompson, Waines and Ali Sutton gave Brid good territory, but in the loose Salem’s tactics were allowing them to slow the ball down and then put big tackles in and turn ball over.
From one such turnover their man of match Baines set up a try to make it 17-7.
Salem gave another penalty away at the breakdown and from the kick to touch Callam Sanderson ran through and fed Wiremu Cookson, who was adjudged to be in touch as he scored.
Bridlington kept the pressure on and from yet another penalty the scrum was taken.
Four scrums later as Salem dropped each scrum, the ref gave a penalty try but amazingly still didn’t yellow card the front row, Roberts converting to make it 17-14.
Ben Johnson was the next to receive a cheap shot, this caused a fracas and Thompson and Salem replacement hooker Simon Markey were sin-binned, this was Brid’s first transgression on the game so to lose such an influential player was a blow.
Brid were still not using their powerful scrum to their advantage, continuing to play wider out, which Salem must have been pleased with and the final whistle saw the hosts take the spoils.
Roberts and Waines ran hard for Brid in a game where the ref’s allowance of so many infringements for offsides, dangerous or late tackles or scrum offences by Salem, with no yellow cards was remarkable.
West Leeds won to cut the gap at the top to 12 points, but with only four matches left it will take a major capitulation by Bridlington for them not to win the championship.
Brid’s tactics were possibly the reason for the defeat though and they must regroup for Saturday’s game against Pontefract in the Yorkshire Shield.
The first team will be selected this evening after training.
The players will meet at 11.45am on Saturday, the game kicking off at 3pm.
There are no 2nds and 3rds games this weekend, instead they will be having a training session followed by some food, then watch England v Ireland in the Six Nations on TV.
Brid 2nds earned a 57-0 win against Hull 2nds on Saturday in the Yorkshire Merit East District League to keep the pressure on second-placed Scarborough.