Salford 23-8 Leeds: Rohan Smith suffers defeat on Rhinos debut

Rohan Smith Leeds Rhinos
Rohan Smith of Leeds Rhinos

New Leeds coach Rohan Smith suffered defeat in his first game in charge as Salford ended a six-game losing streak in style with a 23-8 success.

Paul Rowley’s men showed steely defensive resolve in the second half after building a 16-4 lead with half-backs Brodie Croft and Marc Sneyd outstanding.

First-half tries from Ken Sio, Joe Burgess and Andy Ackers set Salford on their way. Ryan Brierley sealed the win with 11 minutes remaining.

Leeds could only muster a try in each half from Ash Handley and Mikolaj Oledzki as they finished well beaten.

Salford had been struggling with a long list of injuries in recent weeks but were able to recall several players including former Warrington forward Harvey Livett for his first appearance of the season.

There was also a debut for prop forward Tyler Dupree, who joined the Red Devils from Widnes earlier this month, while

Brierley, Tim Lafai, Burgess, Sneyd and Elijah Taylor were all back after injuries.

Rohan Smith debut and a second debut for Zak Hardaker

Leeds named Zak Hardaker in the centres for his second debut having last played for the Rhinos back in 2016.

Full-back Richie Myler was also included for the first time since suffering a groin injury in the opening game of the season.

David Fusitu’a returned to the wing after a knee injury, while James Bentley and Zane Tetevano were back after serving suspensions. However, Leeds forwards Matt Prior and Morgan Gannon were unavailable due to bans.

Salford scored back-to-back tries to take a grip on the game.

In the 10th minute, winger Sio crossed over for his 14th of the season, finishing off a great right-edge attack, taking the final pass from Deon Cross after Brierley, Sneyd and Croft had all combined to good effect.

Sio’s wing partner Burgess scored Salford’s second try after Livett broke dangerously from inside his own half and turned the ball to Samoa international Lafai, who sent Burgess racing away. Sneyd added the conversion to make it 10-0.

Leeds pulled a try back in the 19th minute when Kruise Leeming and Rhyse Martin linked well to get Handley in at the corner – but Martyn was unable to add the conversion.

With seven minutes of the half remaining, Salford scored their third try. A kick along the ground from Croft hit the padding on the right uprights and the ball fell invitingly for the alert Ackers, who touched down for a try which Sneyd converted.

HT: Salford Red Devils 16-4 Leeds Rhinos

Jack Ormondroyd Salford Red Devils SWpix
Jack Ormondroyd in action for Salford | Photo: John Clifton/SWpix

Defensively, Salford were outstanding after the break, forcing the visitors into increasingly-desperate plays.

Sneyd landed a drop goal with 11 minutes remaining to open up a 17-4 lead, then Croft did brilliantly to send Brierley racing away under the posts for a try which Sneyd converted.

Ackers was sin-binned five minutes from time and the Rhinos were able to post a second try of the game with four minutes remaining – Oledzki going in from close range, but Martyn was once again off target with his conversion attempt. The Rhinos fell to a 23-8 defeat in their first outing under Rohan Smith.

FT: Salford Red Devils 23-8 Leeds Rhinos

Salford: Brierley; Sio, Cross, Lafai, Burgess; Croft, Sneyd; Ormondroyd, Ackers, Vuniyayawa, Livett, Watkins, Taylor. Bench: Addy, Bourouh, Escare, Dupree.

Tries: Sio, Burgess, Ackers, Brierley Goals: Sneyd 3 Drop Goals: Sneyd 1

Leeds: Myler; Fusitu’a, Broadbent, Hardaker, Handley; Leeming, Austin; Oledzki, Dwyer, Tetevano, Bentley, Martin, Smith. Subs: Walters, Thompson, Donaldson, O’Connor.

Tries: Handley, Oledzki Goals:

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