HEATH retained third place in Yorkshire One with a 10-3 victory in a titanic battle away to improved Bradford Salem at Shay Lane.
An Ian Downsborough try and a conversion and penalty from Ezra Hinchliffe extended their winning run to seven games but they were made to fight for the full 80 minutes against a dogged Salem side who played some useful rugby,
No 8 Richard Brown and scrum half Peter Birkett returned to the starting line-up after injury while Fergus Marsden was soon forced off and replaced by Seife Boussadda.
Dan Cole produced some astute kicking and clever off-loading from the Heath backs resulted in a penalty attempt from Hinchliffe on 15 minutes which fell just short.
Salem pressed and Heath gave away several penalties in quick succession, the Salem marksman hitting a post following the last of them and Hinchliffe producing a superb clearance.
Alex McFadden, Jonny Cole and Eddie Cartwright were tackling well but a superb flowing move from Salem’s backs took them the length of the field, only for the ball to be dropped with a try looked certain after 25 minutes.
Heath went back onto the attack with Jack Crabtree and Callum Harriett-Brown linking well and a strong run from Boussada resulted in a penalty and Hinchliffe gave the visitors the lead.
Heath were hesitant from the restart and Salem battered away close to the visitors’ line. The defence was sound but only quick reactions from Birkett prevented a score from a quick throw-in as he tackled a winger into touch.
Salem dropped another pass as another opportunity went begging towards the end of the half.
Evergreen winger Si Brown was bundled into touch looking for a try and was injured, leading to the introduction of new Kiwi arrival Isaiah Spooner.
Strong drives from Olly Cook, Richard Brown and Chris Moore set up Downsborough to power over for the all-important try, converted by Hinchliffe for a 10-0 lead after 50 minutes.
Salem responded and began to go through the phases. They were rewarded with a 55th-minute penalty.
With Cook in the sin bin, Heath were under the cosh but they clung on and worked their way back into the game with good work from Jason Merrie, Jonny Cole and Chris Moore.
Salem’s full back suffered a head injury and was replaced with five minutes left and the host were reduced to 14 with a yellow card following a comment to the referee.
This did not deter Salem from a final onslaught. From a Heath scrum in the Salem 22, the home winger intercepted but was chased down by Harriett-Brown and the ball was bundled into touch.
From the line out Salem continued to press but Heath would not be denied.