Salford v Leeds.
It’s seems quite a while since we last previewed a home match. After Easter Salford faced both Wigan and St.Helens away from home in back to back fixtures. Two tremendously brave performances with so much determination and will too succeed. As we’ve said before Rugby League can be a cruel game. With a bit composure and a rub of the green Salford could have had two famous victories but the harsh reality is they lost both to extend a poor run of form. This weeks opponents Leeds have now gone above Salford in the league table. The Rhinos have picked up wins at home against Hull Kingston Rovers and Toulouse in their last two matches. They also bagged a 20-20 draw at home to Huddersfield and were narrowly beaten at Castleford 16-14 on Easter Monday. Considering the Yorkshire sides dismal start to the 2022 campaign they have certainly shown signs of improvement throughout April.
Leeds have been busy off the field with the appointment of a new coach in Rohan Smith. Smith is the son of former Hull, Bradford, Illawara, St.George, Parramatta, Newcastle, Sydney and Wakefield boss Brian Smith.
Rohan has coached in England before having been in charge at Bradford in 2016.
On the players front the Rhinos have brought back former player Zak Hardacker after he left Wigan. Hardacker’s career has been filled with controversy and some people may see this as quite a gamble. The 30 year old is a very versatile player in the back line and can play fullback, centre or wing. He’s got plenty of experience and if he can reproduce past form he will definitely help the Leeds charge in the second half of the season.
It’s also been a busy few weeks at the AJ Bell Stadium. Andy Ackers, Kallum Watkins and Deon Cross have all signed new contracts to stay with the club in 2023.
It was great to see Amir Bourouh make his debut at St.Helens. The young hooker became an instant hit with the away supporters with his ferocious style of play and when the players came together towards the end the youngster didn’t take a backward step and was sin binned for his trouble. I like that in a young player though. You can’t coach heart and desire you’ve either got it or you haven’t. Bourouh is one to watch for the rest of the season and hopefully he will get another chance to shine this Sunday.
The Red Devils picked up two more injuries last time out with Rhys Williams and Alex Gerrard expected to miss the Leeds match.
Super League Home record.
1997 Salford 20 Leeds 33
1998 Salford 6 Leeds 40
1999 Salford 30 Leeds 38
2000 Salford 26 Leeds 34
2001 Salford 14 Leeds 19
2002 Salford 16 Leeds 48
2004 Salford 0 Leeds 44
2005 Salford 12 Leeds 30
2006 Salford 18 Leeds 24
2006 Salford 18 Leeds 19
2007 Salford 26 Leeds 30
2009 Salford 24 Leeds 30
2010 Salford 22 Leeds 31
2011 Salford 22 Leeds 30
2012 Salford 16 Leeds 56
2013 Salford 16 Leeds 42
2014 Salford 18 Leeds 22
2015 Salford 18 Leeds 28
2016 Salford 14 Leeds 10
2017 Salford 24 Leeds 50
2018 Salford 38 Leeds 22
2019 Salford 14 Leeds 46
2019 Salford 28 Leeds 16
2020 Salford 8 Leeds 22
2021 Salford 12 Leeds 38
2022 Salford 26 Leeds 12
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 Dunemann, Ensene Famailo, Phil Ford, Ashley Gibson, Phil Hassan, Weller Hauraki, Ben Jones Bishop, Andy Kirk, Francis Maloney, Robert Lui, Richie Myler and David Young.
A match to remember
Salford 18 Leeds 19 Friday 16th June 2006.
This was to be the third meeting of the two sides in 2006. Leeds had edged a tight game earlier in the season 20-12 at Headingley as well as beating Salford 18-24 at the Willows. The Reds perhaps a shade unlucky in both previous matches.
The Rhinos were really starting to Challenge for trophies having won the Championship in 2004 and were World Champions in 2005 with some real quality in there side. This match in June was another pulsating affair. Salford were enjoying there best season since 1997. So many matches in 2006 had been decided by just one score and in fact quite a few by one point cliff hangers.
Salford managed to weather an early Leeds storm, with Tony Smith’s Rhinos playing there usual swashbuckling style of rugby.
Andy Coley gave us a well deserved lead charging under the posts off a slick Luke Robinson pass. David Hodgson converted 6-0.
Leeds fought back to level the scores before Hodgson had a try disallowed for crossing. The lighting quick winger restored Salford’s advantage with two penalty goals. The Willows faithful were delighted with a 10-6 half time lead in what certainly was an electric atmosphere.
The Rhinos upped the intensity as the second half got in to full swing. Willie Poching crashing over for a try that Kevin Sinfield converted. This nudged Leeds back in front at 10-12.
It was end to end excitement, Hodgson levelled the scores one again with a penalty before scoring a super try in the corner to almost lift the roof off the old Stadium. Holding his nerve once again to boot the conversion off the touch line, 18-12.
The Rhinos kept powering forward with there ferocious pack. Simon Finnigan worked over time in defence for Salford tackling everything that moved. It was like The Alamo at times.
Danny McGuire came to the rescue for the visitors with a piece of individual brilliance. The stand off darting through a gap to sprint to the line. Sinfield levelled the scores 18-18.
As the full time hooter edged ever closer both sides looked to land the knockout blow. Leeds had a huge let off when Andrew Dunemann knocked on close to there line. The Salford half back was having a marvellous season and cut a distinct figure in his black scrum hat.
It was that man McGuire who broke Salford hearts though in the 79th minute landing a drop goal.
It was a bitter pill for Karl Harrison’s Salford side to swallow and there loyal supporters.
As The Reds proved so many times in 2006 they could certainly compete with anyone in The Super League.
The teams that night were;
Salford: Fitzpatrick, Hodgson, Littler, Moule, Langi, Dunemann, Robinson, Coley, Alker, Rutgerson, Brocklehurst, Sibbut, Finnigan.
Subs, Myler, Charles, Highton, Haggerty.
Leeds: Smith, Donald, Walker, Senior, Williams, McGuire, Burrow, Jones-Buchanan, Diskin, Feather, Peacock, Ellis, Sinfield.
Subs, Millard, Lauiti’iti, Bailey, Poching.
The two sides have already met once this season. Salford stormed back in the second half to beat the Rhinos at the AJ Bell Stadium 26-12 almost two months ago in March. Since then Leeds have won two and drawn one from their five league matches. Salford have lost all five. It’s now one win in ten games for a Paul Rowley’s side if you include the cup defeat at Wigan. I don’t think you can question the effort and endeavour the team have shown in recent weeks but with two home games coming up points are desperately needed.
One Leeds player who will miss Sunday’s match is the vastly experienced Matt Prior. The Australian pack star is the cornerstone of the pack but he’s suspended.
As mentioned earlier Paul Rowley will have to patch his team up with so many players out injured. The week off for the Challenge Cup semi finals must have been a real blessing for the club to help aid rest and recuperation.
One player who both Wigan and St.Helens struggled to deal with was Brodie Croft. The crafty Aussie half back took them on and looked so dangerous every time he got the ball. His partnership with Chris Atkin really seems to be growing. The two of them compliment each other and work well together. Atkin was so unlucky at Saints he could of had two tries on another night. I’d love to see him score the winning try on Sunday. The pack has really stood up recently and it’s had to with the personnel we’ve got missing. Since his return to the side Kallum Watkins has been a revelation in the second row. He’s a quality player and you can see that every time he takes to the field. Watkins spent well over ten years at Headingley and averaged more than a try every other game there which is a fantastic ratio.
Jack Ormondroyd is another former Leeds player and Jack was a tower of strength last time out in both attack and defence. King Vuniyayawa will also be out to impress against his former club. King V has been one of the most consistent performers this season with his tackle rate and lung busting running.
This match promises to be a fascinating encounter and could see plenty of points. Both Salford and Leeds have had pretty leaky defences so far in 2022.
The action gets under way at 3pm.
Safe travels and enjoy the match.
Big thanks to Steve McCormick for the photos and the Salford match day programme.