ALTHOUGH Keighley didn’t come away with the spoils from their Counties One Yorkshire derby at Bradford Salem, the visitors’ head coach Danny McGee could not fault his team’s effort.

After the 8-3 defeat, he said: “The heart of our side pleased me, and we didn’t leave anything out on the field.

“I would have been more disappointed if we had lost and the lads hadn’t turned up but that was not the case.”

McGee added: “It was a good battle. Both teams had parts of the game where they were on top, but Salem probably controlled it a little bit longer than we did with the ball.

“But once we started to play with the ball in the second half, towards the end we were in control, so it was a shame that we didn’t get those points to win the game.

“Salem tackled and tackled, although I am not sure that the tackle height came into play, but it was the same for both sides.

“Credit to Salem, who worked very hard and probably deserved their victory.

“We had to look at clever ways to break their defence down, such as with cross-kicks or offloads, but our defence was good as a whole overall as well.”

Bearing in mind that Salem and Keighley had drawn 22-22 when they met last season at Shay Lane, most pundits before this Counties One Yorkshire derby were predicting a close game.

However, what they didn’t factor in was that it would be such a low-scoring contest where defences were on top and missed tackles were few and far between.

In the end, Salem scored the only try, by winger Jake Green to add to an Andy Robinson penalty, with the visitors only replying with an Alex Brown penalty.

But that is not the whole story, as Keighley dominated the closing stages and it needed gutsy and committed Salem defence to keep them out.

Salem took the lead with a 20th-minute penalty from Robinson, converted on a slight angle between the 22 and the 10-metre line.

Green’s try was a fillip for the hosts just before the interval, but Keighley got on the scoreboard in the 56th minute via that Brown penalty.

Four minutes later, he missed another penalty from in front of the posts, but Salem were unlucky not to get a penalty try soon after.

Hooker James Brown threw into a line-out and then joined a maul that rapidly progressed 30 metres down the hill towards Heaton Woods.

A pile of bodies ended up on the floor just shy of the Keighley line, but the away side went unpunished.

Brown’s cross-kicking to his right winger Alan Ebbrell was a joy to behold but even that pin-point accuracy could not unlock Salem’s defence, with winger Sam Blakeley going close to a try on the left for the visitors in the 76th minute.

Play was then concentrated deep in Salem’s 22 but somehow the home side kept out Sam Booker and company to record a victory that lifted them one place up the table to sixth.

That leaves them two points and two places behind Keighley, with both teams having won five of their eight matches so far.

As for Keighley’s injuries during a gruelling contest, McGee said: “Jake Parkinson came off with a dead calf but went back on.

“There are just bruised bodies, so we will need to manage them and have a lighter session on Tuesday and prepare for Pocklington at home on Saturday, which won’t be easy.”