Old Hales progressed to the quarter finals of the North Midlands Shield with a hard-fought 12-10 win over higher division Old Salteians.

Hales started the game poorly when a break from the hosts' scrum-half set-up their fly-half to cross the line for a converted try to give them a 7-0 lead after only three minutes.

The visitors just didn't seem to heed this early warning and continued to make countless unforced errors in attack, despite having more possession than Salts in the opening third. Finally, Hales began to take the ascendancy at the set-piece. With their powerful front row of Tony Shaw, Stuart Homer, and Thomas Dempsey they set about destroying their opposition at each scrum and stealing a number of line-outs through Neil Western and Charlie Lowe. However, these were to be the only plus points from a disappointing first half display from the visitors.

The second half saw a dogged display from Hales and a turnaround in fortunes, if not performance. Salts kicked a penalty in the 52nd minute which was awarded when Hales were deemed to be offside in midfield at a break down.

Second-row Eoin McMahon was replaced through injury soon after by Chris Wagstaff, who got into the action quickly, having a large influence on the tempo of the game. The faster tempo caught Salts off guard and Hales were awarded successive penalties, taking them closer to the home side's line. These provided a good platform for Hales and the opportunity was not missed and after some strong mauling from the forwards, the ball was shipped out to the backs where Alex Church had moved in off his wing looking for ball. He took a pass 10 yards out and crashed through the defence to score under the posts. Centre Ben Smith added two points with the conversion.

Just five minutes later Hales were again pressuring the Salts defence in their 22 after kicking to the corner from a penalty for hands at a ruck. This time the forwards retained the ball.

From the line-out 15 yards from the line, Western took the ball cleanly and all eight forwards piled in, sending the maul careering towards the line. The ball was controlled at the back by Dempsey who grounded the ball as Hales bulldozed over. The conversion was missed by Smith.

Hales, playing against the wind were then able to hold on to their narrow lead for the remaining 16 minutes to make it through to the last eight of the competition.

Next week Hales are back in action at home in the league against Burntwood (kick-off 2.15pm).