After six straight victories Salford arrived at Headingley brimming with confidence as they went in search of a first League double over Leeds since 1946.
With the renovation work at Headingley now complete the ground certainly is a fantastic state of the art facility. Salford’s travelling away following packed the slightly more modest West Terrace but arrived in huge numbers creating a special atmosphere at kick off.
Salford’s last win in this fixture had come ten years ago on Easter Monday in 2009.
Both sides defences were well on top in the opening quarter, particularly on the goal line as chances were limited. The Rhinos threw plenty at The Red Devil’s with former Salford favourite Robert Lui pulling the strings.
The first points of the match were very much worth the wait. Jackson Hastings toyed with the Leeds defence before coasting through a gap finding Niall Evalds in support who raced over to score. Krisnan Inu added the goal 0-6.
Salford doubled their lead with another well worked try. Slick ball movement from right to left created the space for Jake Bibby to touch down just inside the touch line. Inu calmly booted the conversion over from the touch line. 0-12.
Joey Lussick went for a booming forty twenty kick but this was denied by a piece of pure skill from the Leeds winger. The Rhinos put on a swift move with some super support play, Richie Myler scored the try under the posts with just four first half minutes remaining, 6-12.
From the kick off Leeds coughed up possession deep in their own half allowing Salford a chance to strike right on half time. A penalty followed for interference at the play the ball with The Red Devil’s having no hesitation at all to take the two points on offer, 6-14 half time.
Leeds started the second half with a real energy and purpose. They dominated possession and field position but Salford had a real grit and doggedness in defence. Back to back sets were repelled resiliently.
The Rhinos eventually got their break through in the 55th minute. A desperate last tackle grubber kick was pounced on by veteran forward Jamie Jones Buchanan. At 12-14 the match was in the balance, the Leeds players seemed to be gaining momentum and trying to get on an attacking roll.
It was then Salford’s turn to enjoy some well deserved field position as they pounded the Leeds line looking for the knock out blow. A wayward pass floated into the arms of Rhinos top try scorer Ash Handley, a cruel interception looked on the cards but to Salford’s relief Handley knocked on.
The Red Devil’s continued to Batter the Leeds line enjoying set after set and perhaps trying too hard at times to score on every play. The Rhinos were desperately clinging on scrambling for each other heroically at times.
Then it finally came, Salford’s knock out punch. Joey Lussick from close range showing all the strength in the world to snatch a try to send the away supporters into a complete delight.
Leeds coach Richard Agar was full of praise for both sides in particular their defence. Magnanimous in defeat Agar pointed out the strengths of Salford and the lessons his Leeds side can learn from Ian Watson’s men.
Watson was as calm as ever speaking after the match “a playoff football mentality that’s how I’d explain tonight. We knew coming into these games if were going to play playoff football we need a mentality about us to come away from home and defend really well. I think we’ve shown we’ve got that grittiness in us.”
Salford lie fourth place in the table with one regular season game remaining but could still finish higher depending on other results.
The Red Devil’s are back in action next Friday at home to Hull Kingston Rovers.
After defeat at home to London the Robins May have to win this match to stay up. It promises to be another fantastic match and occasion.
Leeds 12 Salford 20