With two rounds of the regular season left Salford sit in fourth position. A fantastic achievement so far for a team many people predicted to be battling at the foot of the table. A place in The Super League playoffs is almost in touching distance but The Red Devils know their is still plenty of work to be done.
As a Salford supporter a trip to Headingley to face Leeds has always been quite a daunting prospect. Our very poor record there over the years has probably got something to do with that. It’s a bit like going on your driving test or taking an exam at school. You know you’ve got to do it.
Salford have won on just three occasions away to Leeds in the last sixty years.
Those results were 18-19 in 1959, 13-28 in 1977 and 20-30 in 2009.
Over the past few seasons under coach Ian Watson Salford have lost some very tight contests and have been on the wrong end of some tough calls.
The Rhinos have struggled again this season and perhaps under achieved in many people’s eyes. In the close season Australian David Furner took over as coach and made some exciting signings. Expectations were high amongst the supporters but Furner‘s reign didn’t last long as he paid the price for his sides poor start to 2019. As an outsider looking in Furner’s treatment by Leeds seemed quite unfair. I suppose the question we will never know the answer too is should he have been given more time.
Richard Agar is now at the helm for the rest of this season but it remains to be seen who will be in the hot seat come the start of 2020.
Leeds have flirted with relegation again this year, however last weekend’s win over London Broncos in the capital will guarantee their safety for top flight Rugby League next year.
Salford boss Ian Watson in determined mood.
Salford have won six games on the trot and confidence is flowing through the team. Their seems a real belief and togetherness. Ian Watson has built a trust and culture amongst his group of players that no amount of money can buy.
The long suffering supporters are starting to believe that maybe their club is on the cusp of something very special. A top five finish would be remarkable considering the resources the club are playing with. Victory in the final two regular season matches could see a top three finish. Momentum and form can make a team dangerous and if Salford can keep winning matches the way they have been doing recently no team will be relishing facing them.
Super League away record.
1997 Leeds 34 Salford 18
1998 Leeds 31 Salford 12
1999 Leeds 50 Salford 16
2000 Leeds 42 Salford 16
2001 Leeds 56 Salford 6
2002 Leeds 39 Salford 38
2004 Leeds 34 Salford 6
2005 Leeds 54 Salford 14
2006 Leeds 20 Salford 12
2007 Leeds 52 Salford 14
2009 Leeds 20 Salford 30
2010 Leeds 22 Salford 10
2011 Leeds 46 Salford 12
2012 Leeds 46 Salford 12
2013 Leeds 42 Salford 14
2014 Leeds 32 Salford 4
2015 Leeds 70 Salford 6
2016 Leeds 8 Salford 0
2017 Leeds 20 Salford 14
2017 Leeds 44 Salford 2 (super 8s)
2018 Leeds 20 Salford 0
2018 Leeds 18 Salford 16 (the qualifiers)
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, David Young and Robert Lui.
Ashley Gibson, a prolific try scorer for Leeds and Salford.
A match to remember Monday 13th April 2009
Leeds 20 Salford 30.
Easter 2009 turned out to be a very successful one for Shaun McRae and his Salford side. A very exciting home match on Good Friday saw the City Reds edge Warrington 18-16. Many felt the victory over The Wolves was perhaps a surprising one but what happened a few days later on Easter Monday was nothing short of sensational.
Leeds Rhinos we’re flying high in the Super League table and were the reigning champions having won the Grand final for the past two seasons in 2007 and 2008. They would go on to lift the Trophy again at the end of the 2009 but this bright sunny afternoon at Headingley was all about the away side.
Leeds had been a real graveyard for Salford sides over the years with our last victory coming in February 1977. The travelling supporters on the West terrace arrived in hope more than anything just in case the unthinkable actually happened.
Salford got off to a perfect start with John Wilshere following up Jeremy Smith’s shrewd kick to touch down near the posts and then adding the conversion.
More slack defending by the Rhinos allowed Jordan Turner to send winger Mark Henry charging in at the corner to extend the Reds advantage.
Jamie Jones Buchanan scored for the hosts to reduce the deficit to just four points before some real magic from Salford’s teenage half back Richie Myler.
With the hooter sounding, Myler broke clear from his own half to score the Reds’ third try and Wilshere’s goal made it 16-6 at the break. Salford were very good value for the lead they had built and their was an excited buzz amongst the supporters.
Shortly after the restart Myler put in a clever kick what Robbie Paul read perfectly to scamper over for Salford’s fourth try.
Ryan Hall and Keith Senior scored tries for Leeds before Jamie Peacock barged over from close range as the Rhinos looked to crush Salford’s dreams.
With the score reading 20-24 with just seven minutes remaining the next score would be crucial. It was a glorious score as well with Jordan Turner snatching an interception to race home towards the delighted Salford supporters who were literally dancing on the terraces.
A very memorable day, ten years have now past since then and over that decade Leeds have had the upper hand in all the fixtures at Headingley.
Leeds: Webb, Jones-Bishop, Ablett, Senior, Hall, McGuire, Burrow, Burgess, Diskin, Bailey, Jones-Buchanan, Kirke, Sinfield.
Replacements: Leuluai, Lauitiiti, Peacock, Buderus.
Salford: Wilshere, Henry, Littler, Turner, Ratchford, Smith, Myler, Cashmere, Alker, Stapleton, Adamson, Parker, Swain.
Replacements: Sibbit, Leuluai, Paul, Jewitt.
Referee: J Child
The buzz and excitement amongst the Salford supporters recently has been fantastic. The clubs last major trophy came forty three years ago so the commitment and dedication of their loyal band of followers is heart warming to see. I don’t think anyone in Rugby League would begrudge the club some success.
Headingley is looking magnificent after all the renovation work that has been done. What a fantastic stage for Salford Red Devil’s to make another huge statement on Friday night. Their promises to be another big vocal following crossing the Pennies. As I mentioned earlier our away record at Leeds is pretty dreadful so a victory here would be extra special.
Leeds have plenty of quality players in the team, young fullback Jack Walker is one of the most sought after prospects in the country.
Leeds star fullback, Jack Walker.
Conrad Hurrell is a blockbusting centre with unbelievable power and a big danger close to the try line. Harry Newman has been impressive this year and at just nineteen years of age has a big future ahead of him.
One player Salford know all about is Robert Lui. ‘The Star Man’ made a controversial move to West Yorkshire a few months ago with Tui Lolohea moving the opposite way to join Salford. Lui signed for Salford for the start of the 2016 season and soon became a big favourite with the supporters.
Many supporters were a little sceptical at ‘The swap deal’ between Leeds and Salford involving Lui and Lolohea. Tui Lolohea had a fantastic World Cup with Tonga and big things were expected from him at Leeds. For one reason or another things didn’t quite work out for Tui at the Rhinos. The young half back paid the price for his sides failings and became a scapegoat for the Leeds supporters. In his short time at Salford playing alongside Jackson Hastings Lolohea has found his feet with some thrilling performances. His short kicking game of late has been a pivotal tool in Salford’s attack. The supporters have taken to him and he’s certainly a lot more relaxed playing with a smile on his face. Their is no doubt Tui Lolohea will want to answer a few critics on Friday night.
The Red Devil’s Away form so far this year should leave them nothing to fear travelling to Headingley. Ian Watson and the players want this victory. Speaking to Ian last Thursday night about this match he seemed more determined than ever.
This is a match not to be missed, the action gets under way at 7:45pm.
Safe travels and enjoy the match everyone.