Richie Myler and Jack Broadbent both scored two tries apiece as Leeds Rhinos powered past Salford Red Devils 38-12 in a frequently ill-tempered clash at the AJ Bell Stadium which saw referee Robert Hicks brandish two red cards and three yellows.
Both sides played for more than an hour with 12 men while Salford were reduced to 11 on two separate occasions. Leeds also played for 10 minutes at the start of the second half with only 11 men.
In the 16th minute, Salford skipper Lee Mossop was red-carded for flooring Konrad Hurrell and Leeds forward Bodene Thompson was also sent off for his part in the ensuing brawl.
Early in the second half, Salford’s Ryan Lannon and Luke Gale of Leeds were shown yellow cards after an off-the-ball altercation.
It was the second successive game that Salford have had a player red-carded. Last week at Huddersfield they had James Greenwood dismissed although the guilty party was later proved to be Dan Sarginson.
Playing their first game in over a month after a Covid outbreak led to two fixtures being postponed, Leeds took a grip on the game thanks to Myler’s brace just before the break.
The double red card incident saw the match spark into life after a rather humdrum start where Salford had gone closest to scoring when Joe Burgess was held up over the line after a short kick through by Declan Patton.
Leeds adapted to life with 12 men with more success than the home side and opened the scoring in the 17th minute when Gale and Myler combined to send Broadbent over for his first try. Rhyse Martin added the conversion.
The sin-binning of Wells saw Salford down to 11 men and Leeds again made the most of their numerical advantage as Tom Briscoe scored a try which Martin could not convert.
To their credit, Salford’s 11 men stayed in the game when Chris Atkin raced 80 metres to touch down after intercepting a pass when Leeds seemed destined to score again. Atkin also kicked the conversion and Patton kicked a penalty six minutes before half-time to reduce the deficit to just two points.
However, Myler’s quickfire double against one of his former clubs in the two minutes before half-time saw the game swing decisively Leeds’ way. With Martin converting both, the Rhinos held a healthy 22-8 lead at the break which they never looked like surrendering.
Only three minutes of the second half had been played when referee Hicks had to reach for his cards again – this time yellows for Gale and Lannon after an altercation in back play.
With both teams down to 11 again, Broadbent struck for his second try with a tidy finish in the 46th minute.
Leeds hooker Kruise Leeming grabbed his side’s sixth try from close range and Martin’s goal made it 32-8 to Richard Agar’s men.
Gale added another Leeds try converted by Martin with 16 minutes left but the home side completed the scoring when Morgan Escare produced a stylish finish from 30 metres out, although Patton could not convert.