After last weeks heroics at Huddersfield it was a return to home comforts for Salford as they met Leeds in a Sunday lunchtime kick off. Once again Salford coach Richard Marshall was forced to make changes and their were one or two surprises.
Tui Lolohea came in at fullback for the suspended Dan Sarginson. Morgan Escare started on the wing in place of Ken Sio. Sio played on Friday night for the Combined Nations team. Matty Costello made a welcome return from injury to start in the centres. Their was one change in the pack with Oliver Roberts promoted from the bench to start in the second row. Sam Luckley and Ryan Lannon were both back in the team as substitutes with Greg Burke, James Greenwood and Sebastine Ikahihifo missing out.
Leeds had a strong side out with Luke Gale and Mikolaj Oledzki in the starting line up, both were backing up from international duty less than forty eight hours ago.
The weather was slightly overcast with a gentle breeze at kick off. With plenty of positive anticipation Salford were looking to make it back to back victories for the first time this season.
Both sides traded sets in the opening stages with Lolohea looking very steady under the high ball. On the back of a Leeds mistake in their own half Rhys Williams and Joe Burgess came close but were stopped short of the line.
The Rhinos first real threatening attack was halted by a super tackle from Harvey Livett on Kruise Leeming.
Lee Mossop clattered Conrad Hurrell with a thumping tackle, Hurrell struck out and was sent crashing to the ground from a Mossop punch that any heavy weight boxer would of been happy with. A mass brawl broke out and eventually when things calmed down referee Robert Hicks sent Mossop and Leeds forward Bodene Thompson off with two red cards.
The match was threatening to boil over with plenty of spite in the tackles.
Jack Broadbent scored in the corner to put Leeds in front and Rhyse Martin converted.
Jack Wells was then sin binned to reduce Salford to eleven men and Leeds took advantage with another try in the same corner as their first one. Tom Briscoe the scorer. The conversion was missed 0-10.
Chris Atkin hit back for Salford with an eighty metre interception try which he converted to drag Salford off the canvass and back into the contest.
A Declan Patton penalty goal reduced the deficit to 8-10. Salford were starting to grow in confidence as Escare broke away down the right edge.
A sucker punch struck Salford two minutes before the break when Richard Myler stretched over to score then on the next set he scored his second try to make it back to back tries to leave Salford trailing 8-22 at halftime after a frustrating forty minutes.
The bad blood between the two sides spilled over at the start of the second. Luke Gale went swinging for Ryan Lannon. Fists were flying before the two players were shown the yellow card.
Jack Broadbent scored his second try to extend the Rhinos lead as the match seemed to be drifting away from Salford.
A nice Matt Prior off load set up the next try. Kruise Leeming took the pass to crash over and Martin converted.
Nothing Salford tried seemed to come off. The players looked frustrated and were unable to build anything of substance.
Luke Gale backed up well as Leeds put their foot on the pedal to score another try. Gale went under the posts.
At times the second half was a very scrappy affair. Salford showed signs of promise but the problem was these moments were few and far between. Leeds had the Red Devils at arms length as the match began to fizzle out.
Morgan Escare scored a superb try skinning two Leeds defenders down the right edge as the clock counted down.
Their is definitely potential in this Salford side it’s just a case of unlocking it. Discipline is costing the team dearly at the moment and needs addressing. A disappointing afternoon at the AJ Bell Stadium Stadium ended in a 12-38 defeat. Salford return on Thursday to play Wakefield Trinity.
Salford 12 Leeds 38.