Yarnbury 26 Bradford Salem 24
Yarnbury and Bradford Salem have developed a keen rivalry over the last few seasons and Satur-day’s clash between the two promotion contenders certainly lived up to expectations.
The two well-matched sides fought out a fine contest with Yarnbury only snatching the win with a converted try in the final minute from full back Gerard Huss.
The win was sweet revenge for the victory Salem had scored over the Horsforth side earlier in the season.
Yarnbury had the dependable Russell Gomersall starting in the second row after two strong performances in recent weeks while Chris Flowers made a welcome return on the wing after injury.
Pete Tennant bulked up the pack at hooker and Tom Gilcrist again utilised his pace at flanker.
Another key change saw Stu Wilson deputise for injured play-maker Carl Paterson in the stand-off berth.
Salem started with a slight breeze in their favour and chose to run the ball at every opportunity.
Stand-off Andy Robinson orche-strated some flowing passing moves.
Salem were the first side to post a score when full back Danny Belcher kicked a penalty after Yarnbury were penalised for going over the ball. at a ruck.
The score seemed to galvanise the home side and they roared back with Gomersall and the front row of Richard Lister, Adam Pike and Tennent making good ground.
Yarnbury used the attacking platform to move the ball wide to Chris Flowers who was tackled just short of the line.
Minutes later a similar move brought the desired result. Flow-ers outflanked the defence to score out wide and Huss added the difficult conversion.
Salem were looking good with the ball in hand and a move on the right saw Robinson put centre Connor Mularkey through a gap for an impressive 20-metre run to the line. Belcher added the extras.
Salem’s lead was short lived. A penalty from Huss levelled things up.
A bit of invention from centre Steve Riley with a crosskick to the right saw unmarked winger Alex Clarke tackled just short of the line by winger Carl Walker and centre Tom Barnes.
Further penalties were traded before half-time so the score was 13-13 at half-time.
The second half saw both sides looking to secure the win they needed to boost their promotion claims.
Within four minutes Yarnbury created an opportunity for Flowers but the pass was dropped with an overlap beckoning.
Belcher (2) and Huss had another exchange of successful penalties as the game remained tight.
Salem then ran the ball impressively out of defence from another Yarnbury attack and got winger Adam Sutcliffe away to wrong-foot full back Huss before scoring in the corner.
At this stage it seemed that Salem’s tactics were just right against a determined Horsforth outfit.
Yarnbury unleashed a spell of heavy pressure and reduced the lead to five points when Huss landed another penalty.
The score put renewed vigour into Yarnbury’s play.
Yarnbury took the line-out from a penalty to the corner but Salem conceded a scrum as they smoth-ered the move.
From the set piece Yarnbury moved the ball wide to the right where Huss levelled the scores.
The conversion was difficult but Hess sent it sailing between the posts to secure victory for his side.
In that instant Salem’s prom-otion chances dimmed while Yarnbury’s grew all the more promising.
They face another key game on Saturday when they visit leaders Hullensians, a side they have two games in hand on It all makes for an exciting end of the season at Brownberrie Lane where Yarnbury will play the semi-final of the RFU semi-final on Easter Saturday.