After last season’s glory beating Castleford at Old Trafford, champions Leeds Rhinos are back in the middle eights for the second time in three seasons.
In a whirl wind few weeks that saw Brian McDermott lose his job and the return of Kevin Sinfield as director of rugby there was slight relief last weekend with a victory over Widnes. When you look at the calibre of player the Rhinos have at there disposal it is strange how they have struggled so much this year. Salford’s record against Leeds over the years isn’t easy on the eye. With just one home victory in The Super League era at home out of 20 meetings.
Going in to the final round of the regular season Leeds sit in 9th place with just 8 wins from 22 matches.
Salford have lost four games on the trot, sitting in 11th place three points behind Hull kr. The Red Devils can’t finish any higher and will face the daunting prospect of four away games in The Qualifiers.
New signing Jackson Hastings is poised to make his debut on Friday night for Salford. The half back will hopefully be one of the missing pieces to Ian Watson’s 2018 jigsaw.
2018 has been a struggle for The Super League champions
Super League home record
1997 Salford 20 Leeds 33
1998 Salford 6 Leeds 40
1999 Salford 30 Leeds 38
2000 Salford 26 Leeds 34
2001 Salford 14 Leeds 19
2002 Salford 16 Leeds 48
2004 Salford 0 Leeds 44
2005 Salford 12 Leeds 30
2006 Salford 18 Leeds 24
2006 Salford 18 Leeds 19
2007 Salford 26 Leeds 30
2009 Salford 24 Leeds 30
2010 Salford 22 Leeds 31
2011 Salford 22 Leeds 30
2012 Salford 16 Leeds 56
2013 Salford 16 Leeds 42
2014 Salford 18 Leeds 22
2015 Salford 18 Leeds 28
2016 Salford 14 Leeds 10
2017 Salford 24 Leeds 50
They played for both
Here are a few players to wear the red of Salford and the blue and amber of Leeds.
Luke Burgess, Joel Moon, Mark Brooke-Cowden, Andrew Duneman, Ensene Famailo, Phil Ford, Ashley Gibson, Phil Hassan, Weller Hauraki, Ben Jones Bishop, Andy Kirk, Francis Maloney, Richie Myler and David Young.
Andrew Dunemann a star for both Salford and Leeds
A match to remember Wednesday 12th May 1999
Salford 30 Leeds 38
There was always something special about a game under the lights at The Willows. The smell of winter green and hot dogs on arrival always builded the excitement and anticipation. This game back in 1999 came at a time of struggle for Salford. Andy Gregory had been replaced as coach by Australian John Harvey and results and performances were disappointing.
The Rhinos were 6-16 up at the break before opening up a 6-38 lead in the second half. Then came a thrilling Salford fight back with star stand off Steve Blakeley at the hub of all good things the Reds did.
South African winger Mark Johnson who was a real flyer crossed for two excellent tries for the home side. Add to that tries from Craig Makin, Steve Blakeley and Hudson Smith Salford astonishingly got the score back to 30-38.
Looking back if the match had gone on another ten minutes who knows what might have been.
The Salford line up that night was;
Bobby Thompson, Scott Martin,Stuart Littler, Paul Carige, Mark Johnson, Steve Blakeley, Martin Crompton, Craig Makin, Malcolm Alker, Paul Southern, Hudson Smith, David Bradbury, Paul Highton. Subs Carl Briggs, Neil Baynes, Joe Faimalo, Ensene Faimalo.
We may have lost this match but it was a real thriller that sticks in the mind.
This match seemed to provide a mini revival with Salford beating London in there next match 31-14. Followed by a 26-26 draw at Sheffield and a 38-18 home win over Hull. Sadly after that we were brought back down to earth 48-0 at St. Helens.
League position will not be effected by Friday nights result but pride and confidence going in to The Qualifiers is what the Salford players will be looking for. Despite Leeds’s problems this season a positive result for Salford would give the whole club a huge boost.
Last weekend The Rhinos beat Widnes 34-0 at Headingly. Surprisingly this was there first home win since Easter Monday against Salford.
With Kevin Sinfield returning with James Lowes The Rhinos will be looking for a flawless finish to the season.
Salford are currently on a run of four successive defeats. Could Jackson Hastings be the player we have been missing?
Australian Jackson Hastings is poised for his Salford debut
Friday night will be another tough test of Salford’s resolve. Leeds posses a big squad with players like Ryan Hall, Joel Moon, Adam Cuthbertson and Richie Myler there’s no lack of quality. Add to that exciting youngsters Jack Walker, Liam Sutcliffe and Stevie Ward, Salford are going to have to put an 80 minute performance in.
The Red Devil’s have there own crop of young stars in Josh Wood, Jake Bibby, Daniel Murray and Ryan Lannon who have all performed admirably in recent weeks with tremendous guile and determination.
It promises to be an exciting match, victory against the current Champions of Super League could just be the springboard Salford Red Devils need.
The action gets under way at 8pm.
Safe travels and enjoy the match, Paul Whiteside.