Another blustery afternoon awaited both teams at kick off. Leeds arrived on the back of a good victory last weekend as Salford looked to get back on track.
A booming kick to start the match caught the Rhinos off guard. The swirling wind pulled the ball away from Luke Gale giving the Red Devils an early attacking opportunity. Two more errors hampered the visitors but Salford’s attack seemed slightly predictable. With Kevin Brown suspended Chris Atkin made his debut partnering Tui Lolohea at half back.
Krisnan Inu returned for the injured Dan Sarginson but sadly Inu left the field in the early stages with what looked like a lower limb injury as he hobbled off. Ian Watson shuffled his side round with Ryan Lannon moving into the centres.
The first points of the match came in the twentieth minute as the dead lock was broken with a fine Salford try. Lolohea with a neat pass to Niall Evalds who sliced through the Leeds defence like a knife through hot butter.
Sebastine Ikahihifo began to put himself about with some tremendous carries and Kris Welham looked solid in defence.
Salford doubled the lead when former Leeds player Lolohea ran the ball on the last tackle showing great strength to crash over. The try was a sweet moment for the Tongan who showed his delight.
The Red Devils had certainly upped the pace and were now bossing the match.
A kick charge down from new signing Oliver Roberts gave Leeds a sniff. Brad Dwyer shot through a gap before sending Gale away to score right on the half time hooter. Gale’s conversion made it 8-6 at the break.
Salford started the second half on the front foot with a huge Joey Lussick forty twenty kick. Again the chance went begging with another error to let Leeds off the hook.
Richie Myler’s introduction seemed to speed to Rhinos up particularly around the ruck.
The match seemed to turn on a controversial call from referee Marcus Griffiths. Niall Evalds took a high ball with real bravery, however he looked to be tackled in the air. The penalty didn’t come, instead Salford were forced to drop out.
Leeds moved the ball well and winger Luke Briscoe finished acrobatically in the corner. Gale missed the conversion but the visitors nudged in front for the first time at 8-10.
Salford were low on numbers with a Luke Yates failing a head assessment and Tyrone McCarthy struggling. Leeds scored again with a simple try from forward Mikolaj Oledzki. Gale stretched the lead to eight points with the conversion and shortly after booted over a penalty goal 8-18.
The Red Devils never really looked a threat in the second half. The frustration of the home supporters was their for all to see. Plenty of dubious and questionable penalty decisions seem to only go one way.
A desperate late Salford attack went wrong when Lannon’s off load went astray. A counter attack ended in a fourth Leeds try. Young fullback Jack Walker rounding off the scoring.
Salford coach Ian Watson was left furious after the match. Speaking about the tackle in the air on Evalds, “ it’s a massive turning point, it’s ridiculous to be fair.
It’s a dead set penalty and that turns the game. Ganson (the controller of referees) needs to contact us, we kept contacting him myself personally. He’s not come back to us. We’re not popular, we’re not Wigan or St. Helens, it’s like we’re not important so they just ignore us and send referees like that.”
Watson’s passion for Salford is very commendable and he will be working his socks off with his players to get the victory next Sunday when they host Wakefield Trinity.
Salford 8 Leeds 22.