North Ribblesdale 17 Bradford Salem 24

NORTH Ribblesdale lost this crucial Yorkshire One relegation battle encounter with lowly rivals Bradford Salem on Saturday.

Poor decision making, tackling and refereeing contributed to their downfall.

This must-win game started well for Ribb as they gained the the upper hand in the scrims.

With probing runs from the wily David Fox at scrum half being complemented with the direct running of centre Ryan Sumner it was no surprise when Tongan Patrick Muller jinked his way over for the first score after 20 minutes.

Ribb were dealt a blow when Fox had to leave the field with concussion which resulted in front row replacement Adam Stubbs stepping up to the plate.

There was no further score until the last three minutes when missed tackles let in centre Ben Booth for Salem.

From the restart, sloppy handling gifted another try converted to give the visitors a 14-5 lead. Ribb gained possession from the re-start and drove forward.

Richard Lynn getting a touchdown that was not seen by the referee who deemed the ball was held up.

With an interval score of 14-5 Ribb were up against it.

They again started brightly and hooker Ian Close scored a close-range try to reduce the deficit on the hour.

Try as they might, Ribb couldn't breakdown the Salem defence and a charged down kick saw the visitors extend their lead with an unconverted try. Amidst the snow flurries and intermittent sunshine the clock was running out when veteran Michael Carr surged to the line for a try that reduced the deficit to two points.

As the game drew to a close, a loose pass was seized on and Salem scored again only to miss the conversion to leave Ribb with a losing bonus point.

Relegation is now a real threat for Ribblesdale but with three home games left they still believe they can escape the trap-door, however with three of the top four to play it is a mighty ask.

Let's wait and see.