Leigh put on a pre-match show to remember for their return to Super League, but Salford spoiled the party on the field with a 20-10 victory at the Leigh Sports Village. Here are our five takeaways…
A show to remember!
Scouting For Girls, fire girls, mascot Leeto and a firework display…Leigh owner Derek Beaumont certainly delivered what he promised ahead of kick-off, with Super League’s best-ever show!
English pop band Scouting for Girls enjoyed a full 40-minute set prior to kick-off, as well as a few extra songs at half-time. And the newly-rebranded Leopards unveiled their new mascot Leeto in the best fashion possible – surrounded by fire!
Well played, Beaumont.
Battle of the kits
On the field, it was the battle of the kits as Salford wore their brand-new third kit for the first time – their 150th anniversary playing shirt.
Meanwhile, Leigh’s home shirt is hard to miss – with Beaumont also getting in on the action with his new branded Leopard jacket.
— Love Rugby League (@loverugbyleague) February 17, 2023
Beaumont had confirmed 8,500 tickets had been sold ahead of the fixture, hoping more tickets bought at the gates would see them beat their Super League record of 9,012 at the Leigh Sports Village.
It was certainly a strong crowd on the night – but it fell just short at 8,589.
Salford spoil the party
On the pitch, Salford ruined the party atmosphere at the Leigh Sports Village, with tries from Kallum Watkins, Andy Ackers and Ryan Brierley. Marc Sneyd also maintaining a 100% record from the boot with four from four.
After finding themselves 4-0 down, the Red Devils finished the first half strongly with two tries to gain a 12-4 lead at the break. And a solid effort in the second 40 only saw them extend that, conceding just two tries all game – one of them a penalty try.
Ryan Brierley our man of the match
Salford full-back Ryan Brierley stopped both Josh Charnley and Lachlan Lam from scoring, using his patience, pace and knowledge to bring both to the ground in almost-certain tries.
A terrific performance from the Scotland international, who also enjoyed a try-scoring performance after linking up with half-back Brodie Croft to score in front of the travelling supporters.
How it happened
- 21′ Josh Charnley scores Leigh’s first Super League try of 2023 in the corner, thanks to a superb pass and assist from half-back Lachlan Lam. Zak Hardaker missed the conversion. (4-0)
- 34′ England international Kallum Watkins hits back for Salford, playing in the back-row. Marc Sneyd converts. (4-6)
- 38′ Following his new four-year deal, Andy Ackers went himself from dummy-half just before the break to extend the away side’s lead. Sneyd converts. (4-12)
- HT: Leigh 4-12 Salford
- 50′ Ryan Brierley slides under the sticks in front of the travelling supporters against his former club. Sneyd converts his third. (4-18)
- 56′ Sneyd sent for 10 for a professional foul, holding Charnley down after the winger made a length-of-the-field break.
- 59′ A rare sight as Leigh are awarded a penalty try. Jack Hughes blocked from grounding a kick from Gareth O’Brien by Watkins, and the video referee awards the four-pointer. Hardaker converts. (10-18)
- 80′ Sneyd added two more on the full-time hooter from a penalty as Tom Amone found himself binned for what appeared to be dissent.
- FT: Leigh 10-20 Salford
How they lined-up
Leigh: Hardaker, Charnley, Chamberlain, Leutele, Briscoe, O’Brien, Lam, Amone, Davis, Mulhern, Wardle, Wardle, Holmes, Asiata. Bench: Nakubuwai, Hughes, O’Donnell, Ipape.
Tries: Charnley, Hughes (penalty try), Goals: Hardaker 1/2
Salford: Brierley, Sio, Cross, Lafai, Williams, Croft, Sneyd, Dupree, Ackers, Vuniyayawa, Watkins, Stone, Partington. Bench: Gerrard, Ormondroyd, Atkin, Wright.
Tries: Watkins, Ackers, Brierley. Goals: Sneyd 4/4 Yellow: Sneyd
What they said
Salford head coach Paul Rowley was particularly pleased with the performance of his full-back. He said post-match: “I thought when Sneydy’s got sin-binned in that period, Ryan Brierley came up with tackles there that wins games. He was outstanding.
“Running Ryan very close was Oliver Partington. Everything he did was of really high quality. On debut I thought he was really fantastic.
“All around, it was a really good team performance.
“Leigh wanted to rightly-so celebrate their Super League return. They did a great job getting the supporters to come and support them.
“It’s a great rivalry we have and the two sets of fans contributed to a wonderful atmosphere. Thankfully for us, it was our fans who got to sing the loudest at the end. They were absolutely immense.”
Leigh full-back Zak Hardaker commented after the game: “We turned the ball over cheaply and with their man down, I don’t think we took advantage of that.
“It’s disappointing and I hate losing more than anyone. But I’m not that frustrated with the loss because performance wise, we did alright. We just lacked experience in some areas.”