On a tense night at Headingley both sides were desperate to avoid defeat on there way to rubber stamping Super League survival. Perhaps the majority of the pressure was on Leeds, being the home side with already a defeat on there Qualifiers record. Salford were without the suspended Jackson Hastings and Luke Burgess. Junior Sau missed his first game of the season through injury as Derrell Olpherts returned to the side. Jansin Turget made the bench.
The Rhinos got the first points through classy wing man Tom Briscoe and his neat finish. Salford drew level with a well worked try of there own. Niall Evalds touching down 4-4.
Leeds had a good share of possession and field position in the first half continuing to ask questions of a The Red Devil’s defence. Salford defended bravely, thwarting set after set.
As the half time hooter approached Robert Lui fluffed a drop goal attempt before Leeds broke away to score through centre Jimmy Kienhorst. The conversion attempt was missed to give The Rhinos a four point cushion at the break 8-4.
Ed Chamberlain came close to scoring early on in the second half losing the ball over the line. At times Salford lacked a bit of composure in the high pressure situations. Leeds edged to a 10-4 lead with a penalty goal before Brett Ferres was sin binned for a high tackled on Tyrone McCarthy. Moments later McCarthy was hit high again by Brad Singleton in a challenge that looked even worse.
Salford’s patience payed off when Greg Burke charged over under the sticks to delight the army of travelling support who were there in numbers and in fantastic voice as usual. Ed Chamberlain’s conversion levelled the scores at 10-10 going in to the final quarter.
In a frantic last 20 minutes Salford went for broke in attack but some how Leeds stood firm.
After soaking the pressure up The Rhinos put a slick move of there own on with Tom Briscoe grabbing his second try. The goal was kicked off the touch line to give Leeds a 16-10 lead with just 12 minutes remaining.
Jansin Turget then managed to burst through making a thrilling break, the ball shifted wide and Olpherts touched down to scenes of joy on the west terrace. You could hear a pin drop amongst the Salford faithful as Chamberlain lined his touch line conversion up. It was another good one and the scores were level again 16-16.
Robert Lui’s huge spiralling bomb seemed to hang in the air before being spilled by young Leeds full back Jack Walker ten yards from his try line. With just minutes remaining Salford were given a golden chance to win at Headingley for only the second time since 1977. It turned in to a very conservative set with a few short drives before Lui snatched at a drop goal attempt. Leeds charged it down and the chance was gone.
Referee James Child then awarded Leeds a relieving penalty which sent them down the pitch to hunt a one pointer of there own. To Salford’s dismay Child blew for another penalty right in front of the posts as the clock counted down the last minute. Liam Sutcliffe calming slotted over the conversion and before Salford could re start the match the hooter sounded.
A cruel way to lose the game for The Red Devil’s and there supporters. Coach Ian Watson was furious after the match and felt his side were let down by some big calls late in the game. Watson will no doubt have his side fired up and ready for another crucial match next weekend away to London Broncos.
Leeds 18 Salford 16