The two sides have met once already this season at the a AJ Bell Stadium back in February with Leeds coming out on top 8-22. Despite Saturday’s match being played behind closed doors in Warrington I am writing this preview with Leeds as the home side. It’s been quite confusing recently with fixture changes and postponement in both the League and Challenge Cup.
2020 has been a mixed bag so far for the Rhinos. Thumped at home to Hull 4-30 in round one they responded soundly in round two to trounce Hull Kingston Rovers 52-4. A 36-0 demolition of Warrington at Headingley made it three wins from their opening four matches and a very solid start for Richard Agar and his team. In a way the suspension of the season came at a time were both Salford and Leeds were starting to find their feet.
Leeds have played three matches in August. A golden point win over Huddersfield was followed by a 0-48 hammering from St Helens. Defeat against Wigan last time out leaves a little bit of pressure and expectation on the Rhinos to start performing. After a disappointing 2019 campaign Leeds are desperate to break in to the top four in 2020. Luke Gale was a huge signing in the off season from Castleford and with a big pack of forwards to play behind he will be looking to kick start his career after over coming a tough time with injury. Former Salford star Robert Lui is now with the Rhinos and another young half back to watch out for is 20 year old Callum McLelland who has featured in the last two Super League matches.
After five months without playing a match Salford could have been excused for a little rustiness however just a few weeks ago the thumping of Hull made Ian Watson’s side look like a well oiled, efficient machine. A ten try display, fifty four points and some enthralling attacking rugby helped underline the great work Watson and his coaching staff have been doing. Some spectacular finishing from wingers Rhys Williams and Ken Sio combined with the swashbuckling panache of Tui Lolohea made Salford a joy to watch.
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)
2019 Leeds 12 Salford 20
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.
Welshman Phil Ford, a firm favourite at both clubs.
A match to remember Friday 6th September 2019.
Leeds 12 Salford 20.
In a season that saw some wonderful results for Salford, this one has to be one of the most satisfying for many of our long suffering supporters.
The Red Devils arrived at Headingley for the penultimate match of the regular season in terrific form having won their previous six matches.
The team had a real togetherness and a fantastic team spirit. Confidence was flowing with momentum building week on week. Every player knew his job and what was expected from coach Ian Watson.
This match would be a huge test. A ground where victories were so rare. 2009, 1977 and 1959 were Salford’s last three wins in the fixture.
Arriving at the ground myself as a supporter I felt a strange excitement and anticipation.
Robert Lui had joined Leeds from Salford in a surprise move just a few months earlier with Tongan star Tui Lolohea moving in the opposite direction.
Having briefly spoken to Tui after a thumping Salford win at Hull just two games previously I could see the hunger in his eyes to do well and prove people wrong. I felt he had been made somewhat of a scapegoat at Leeds and in my opinion their problems ran a lot deeper.
Logan Tomkins came close early on to opening the scoring but was held up over the line. Niall Evalds opened the scoring finishing off a thrilling break from Jackson Hastings. Shortly after youngster Jake Bibby showed some neat footwork to step over to double Salford’s lead 0-12.
Jake Bibby, try scorer in last seasons fixture.
Despite dominating the first half Salford were pegged back just before the break when Richie Myler darted over. Rhyse Martin converted to make it 6-12.
A Krisnan Inu penalty extended the advantage to 6-14.
At the start of the second half Salford’s desire and commitment in defence was outstanding. They resisted a series of back to back Leeds attacks with some terrific tackling. In the 54th minute Leeds finally cracked the water tight defence with veteran forward Jamie Jones Buchanan crashing over on a Brad Dwyer grubber kick. Martin’s conversion made it 12-14.
Salford’s defence was again severely tested in the final quarter but their fantastic effort was finally rewarded at the other end when Joey Lussick burrowed over with seven minutes remaining. Salford’s travelling faithful erupted on the western terrace behind the sticks.
After so much heartache at Headingley it was a pleasure to witness so much joy on our supporters faces.
Inu nailed the conversion to give Salford a famous victory and a very important one. An extra time win over Hull Kingston Rovers the following week gave Salford a third place league finish our highest since 1980.
Leeds: J Walker, Hurrell, Handley, Myler, Merrin, Sutcliffe, Oledzki, Briscoe, Newman, Seumanufagai, Lunt, Lui, Martin.
Subs: Ward, Dwyer, Jones-Buchanan, Smith.
Salford: Evalds, Sio, Welham, Bibby, Inu, Lolohea, Hastings, Mossop, Tomkins, Dudson, Jones, Griffin, McCarthy.
Subs: Flanagan, Lussick, Walker, Burke.
Referee: Liam Moore.
A trip to face Leeds at Headingley with a vocal home crowd behind the Rhinos can be a difficult obstacle to tackle. This Saturday though both sides meet behind closed doors in Warrington. It’s fair to stay Salford have performed well at the Halliwell Jones Stadium on recent visits and victory in this match could really put a The Red Devils on a roll. We saw last season when winning became a habit how powerful and dangerous momentum can be. It was ideal after the Hull victory that players had to self isolate and matches got rearranged. Ian Watson seems to take things like this in his stride, sheltering his players from adversity the best he can.
Their is no doubt Saturday will be a tough test but Salford certainly don’t need to fear Leeds. Tui Lolohea will be looking for another big performance. His creativity and influence in the match against Hull set the tone for victory.
Stay safe and enjoy the match everyone.