These two clubs have shared some really memorable matches over the years. Back in the 2003 season they battled it out in some very fearsome and fiery contests including the Rail Cup final and the National League Grand Final. Who could forget the Challenge cup tie in 2001 at Hilton Park. Salford led 0-12 on a glue pot pitch but Leigh upset the odds with a tremendous comeback to win 16-12.
The 2008 Easter Thursday game is one a lot of Salford supporters will remember. Not just for the victory but for the torrential rain that soaked us all but then suddenly stopped at the full time hooter.
The 2001 Challenge Cup tie was a muddy afternoon at Hilton Park.
It’s been a struggle for Leigh this season who have yet to register a win in the Super League. They’ve come very close though particularly in home matches. Salford showed great fighting spirt to comeback and beat Huddersfield Giants last Friday. A fantastic second half with two well worked tries and a defence that worked overtime saw Salford victorious over the Giants for the second time this season. With players returning to the squad this week Red Devils coach Richard Marshall is hoping his side can build on last week and start climbing the table.
Like Salford, Leigh are a club that has had modest success over the last fifty years or so. The club and town though are steeped in Rugby League tradition and history. It’s a hot bed of the sport with a thriving amateur scene. You’ve only got to look at the amount players that have come through the system at Leigh Miners and Leigh East and gone on to have successful careers. The club might be going through a tough spell at the moment but I am sure they will get past this in the long run.
I’ve been lucky enough to meet some great Rugby League people involved with Leigh Centurions and I wish them well for the future, after Sunday of course!
Away record since 1996 ( Super League Era).
2001 Leigh 16 Salford 12 Hilton Park, Challenge Cup.
2003 Leigh 20 Salford 20 Hilton Park, Arriva Trains Group match
2003 Leigh 12 Salford 32 Hilton Park, National League.
2005 Leigh 6 Salford 32 Hilton Park, Super League.
2005 Leigh 14 Salford 20 Hilton Park, Super League.
2008 Leigh 8 Salford 24 Hilton Park, National League.
2015 Leigh 22 Salford 18 Leigh Sports Village, Challenge Cup.
2016 Leigh 32 Salford 26 Leigh Sports Village, Middle Eights.
2017 Leigh 25 Salford 0 Leigh Sports village, Super League.
2018 Leigh 22 Salford 10 Leigh Sports Village, Challenge Cup.
They played for both.
Luke Adamson, Kevin Ashcroft, Simon Baldwin, Radney Bowker, David Bradbury, John Duffy, Jacob Emmitt, Matt Gardner, Matty Gee, Bobbie Goulding, Danny Halliwell, Harrison Hansen, Gareth Hock, Liam Hood, Peter Smethurst, Stuart Littler, Peter Alstead, Nathan McAvoy, Dean McGilvary, Reni Maitua, Chris Morley, Stephen Nash, Rob Parker, Corey Paterson, John Pendlebury, Michael Platt, Gareth Price, Adam Sidlow, Craig Stapleton, Simon Svabic, John Taylor, Iain Thornley, Mike Wainwright, Junior Sau, Ian Watson and Mal Yates.
David Bradbury played for Salford and Leigh.
A match to remember sunday 16th February 2003.
Leigh 20 Salford 20.
After the disappointment and relegation of the 2002 season Salford started the following year playing in the Arriva Trains Cup Competition. This was to be played prior to the National League one season which would kick off on Good Friday. Salford were drawn in a group with Swinton, Gateshead, Leigh, Rochdale Hornets and Oldham.
Karl Harrison’s Salford side had made a positive start beating Swinton at The Willows 58-6. Many supporters felt that Leigh would be a tough test throughout the season. The Centurions were desperately trying to gain promotion to Super League and had come very close the previous two seasons.
Like Salford they had a decent looking squad and had strengthened in the close season. At hooker Paul Rowley had lots of experience at the top level, Adam Bristow was a clever forward and in the back line Neil Turley scored plenty of tries as well as being a top goal kicker.
It was a bitterly cold Sunday afternoon in February 2003. Salford entered the pitch in their white away strip, this went on to be a favourite with supporters. Leigh were in their traditional red and white hoops.
Salford drew first blood when prop Neil Baynes charged his way through the Leigh defence for the opening try. But Leigh went on to dominate the rest of the half. They levelled when Sean Richardson smashed his way over and should have taken the lead soon afterwards only for centre Damian Munro to spill the ball.
Leigh skipper Adam Bristow scored a try and John Duffy added the conversion and a penalty to give the hosts a 12-4 interval lead.
Salford were certainly in a contest and when John Duffy scored ten minutes in to the second half the Centurions opened up an 18-4 lead.
This seemed to spring Salford into action and they scored two tries in as many minutes. Stuart Littler swooped for the first and then sent Alan Hunte in at the corner.
A Duffy penalty gave Leigh an eight point cushion but six minutes from time Littler scrambled over at the corner and Lee Marsh added the touchline conversion. Two minutes from time Phil Kendrick cost Leigh victory when he was penalised for holding down and Marsh struck the equalising penalty.
It was a frantic finish but in the end a draw was probably a fair result.
The two sides went on to play each other six more times that season with Salford winning all of them including two finals.
Sunday’s game on paper looks an intriguing encounter. Last time the two sides met earlier in the season the match wasn’t much to write home about. After a dismal first half littered with mistakes Salford moved up a gear in the second half to claim a vital first victory of the season.
Leigh have now lost sixteen Super League matches this season. They did come close a few weeks ago against the in form Hull Kingston Rovers. The Centurions were on course for victory until late tries from Shaun Kenny-Dowall and Craig Hall pinched the two points for the Robins.
Leigh pushed Catalans all the way in June and two home ties with Wigan were really close matches. This proves Leigh can be a threat at this level and Salford need to be switched on this Sunday.
The Red Devils came up with a special second half display to beat Huddersfield last Friday and Richard Marshall will be hoping his players can continue with that intensity this Sunday. The defence has improved so much recently and this will be key to victory on Sunday.
Joe Burgess has began to make his mark at Salford.
Salford should have a fairly strong squad to pick from particularly in the back line. It’s been nice to see Joe Burgess playing well in recent weeks. His try saving tackle last Friday was crucial.
The action gets underway at 4:30pm.
Keep safe and enjoy the match.
Photos, Salford RL match day programme and big thanks to Steve McCormick.