After the baking hot temperatures this week the Salford players arrived at Headingley to a slightly cooler one with hazy skies above. With three wins from their last four matches things were looking slightly brighter for Richard Marshall after a testing few months. The Red Devils could take plenty of positives from their recent performances and with players returning from injury and suspensions the squad was looking a lot healthier.
Their seemed a real anticipation prior to kick off with this being one of the first games after crowd restrictions.
Salford made a few changes from last Friday’s victory over Wakefield with Lee Mossop and Jack Wells both returning to the starting lineup. Harvey Livett replaced Matty Costello in the centres. New signing Ata Hingano started on the bench.
Salford were looking to add to there recent 2019 victory in this fixture but as long suffering supporters know only to well the clubs record at Headingley is a real enigma. Just three victories since 1959. They came in 1977, 2009 and 2019.
If you’ve not been to Headingley for a few seasons you would be amazed at the amount of work that has been done. The South and North stands have both been completely rebuilt in to state of the art facilities. Only the West terrace remains the same keeping its tradition but looking slightly out of place.
Salford got stuck in early on forcing Leeds in to a few mistakes. Pauli Pauli was penalised for forcing a Leeds player in goal when the tackle was completed. It looked a harsh decision but the Rhinos used the momentum to roll down the pitch. Young centre Harry Newman finished off a fine move to score. Leeds made it back to back tries after Salford tried a short kick off. Again attacking down their left edge Newman stepped brilliantly and Kruise Leeming backed up to get the crowd on their feet. Rhyse Martin converted both tries 12-0.
The Red Devils were under the cosh and couldn’t get any sort of foothold in the match.
Martin added a penalty goal to increase the lead to 14-0.
The Red Devils had brought a healthy following of supporters and when Leeming charged over for his second try you had to feel that those supporters had been down this Headingley road so many times before.
The half time hooter sounded and Salford trudged off trailing by 20-0 after a very one sided first half.
Leeds continued to crank up the pressure at the start of the second but out of nothing Ken Sio raced away to get Salford on the scoreboard.
The fight back was short lived as referee Ben Thaler sin binned Tui Lolohea and Sebastine Ikahihifo in quick succession leaving Salford to battle on with eleven men. Quick fire tries from Callum McLelland and King Vuniyayawa wrapped the points up for the Rhinos.
Salford scored the try of the night when Sio burst through, the Leeds defence with hooves pounding behind him forced Sio to kick through and it was perfect for Lolohea to touch down.
Matt Prior scores from close range before Krisnan Inu scored the games final try.
Salford showed plenty of effort and commitment but the aggression from the Leeds forwards was too much for them at times. The Rhinos ruck speed was another thorn in the Red Devils side on a night were nothing seemed to go right.
Salford are back in action next Thursday at the AJ Bell Stadium against Hull Kingston Rovers.
Leeds 38 Salford 16.