Salford’s second half comeback wasn’t enough to give the City Reds their first home win over Leeds at The Willows since the inception of Super League, as the Rhinos won 30-22.
Matt Parish’s first home game in charge of the City Reds didn’t go the way he would have liked, but there is no doubt he can take plenty of posetives from the game.
After a dominating first quarter from Salford, in which the home side forced a goal line drop out and had repeated sets on the Leeds line, the visitors were the first to strike blood.
It was another of rugby league’s classic break away tries against the run of play, and summed up the harsh reality that this sport can produce.
Stefan Ratchford’s high kick put Lee Smith under pressure in his own in-goal, but the ball was misjudged by the winger. Danny Williams and Sean Gleeson both had opportunities to gather the ball in the air, but the ball fell to ground and was collected effortlessly by Kallum Watkins.
Watkin broke away but had Danny Buderus in support. Buderus didn’t have the legs, however Ryan Hall was on hand to finish off what was an unexpected yet sensational try. Kevin Sinfield had no trouble adding the conversion.
Moments later Leeds doubled their lead. Salford’s kick off from the restart found touch on the full, and Leeds made sure Salford paid the price. Ryan Bailey capitalised using his power and strength to force his way over the line.
Salford picked themselves up for the remaining 18 minutes, but with two minutes remaining on the clock before half time Carl Ablett released a mind blowing offload out of the back door, and the support player maestro Danny McGuire was in support to increase Leeds’ lead.
Salford finally got points on the board after 12 minutes of the second half. Luke Patten forced his way over after Salford began playing the same style of rugby that put Leeds under pressure in the opening quarter.
However the thoughts of any immediate comeback didn’t last long. Rob Burrow made a break 40 metre from the Salford try line, and with only the fullback Patten to beat, he had Jamie Jones-Buchanan and Brent Webb on either shoulder in support. Burrow chose Webb, and the former New Zealand international made no mistake with the finish.
But Matt Parish has seemed to inserted a never give up attitude in his short time at The Willows, and some slick passing movements gave Mark Henry an opportunity to set up Jodie Broughton. Broughton skipped past his opposite winger and managed to beat the last man of the Leeds defence to score in the corner.
Salford finally dragged the scores to within one try and a conversion with 13 minutes left of the clock. Stefan Ratchford put up another bomb over the Leeds’ in-goal. This time Vinnie Anderson was able to catch the ball in the air and ground the ball as he came back down to earth.
Sinfield converted a penalty with eight minutes remaining to stretch the Rhino’s lead back to eight points. But Leeds put the game to bed in the 75th minute when some excellent passing and a final long pass out to Lee Smith, who dove between defender and corner post, gave Salford too much to do with too little time to complete their comeback despite one final try from Lee Jewitt.
Salford: Patten; Broughton, Henry, Gleeson, Williams; Ratchford, Holdsworth; Cashmere, Smith, Boyle; Anderson, Nero; Wild.
Subs: Godwin, Jewitt, Neal, Sidlow.
Leeds: Webb; Smith, Watkins, Ablett, Hall; Sinfield, Burrow; Bailey, Buderus, Peacock; Jones-Buchanan, Pitts; Clarkson.
Subs: McGuire, Leuluai, Lauititi, Kirke.
Salford tries: Patten, Broughton, Anderson, Jewitt.
Salford goals: Holdsworth (3)
Leeds tries: Hall, Bailey, McGuire, Webb, Smith.
Leeds goals: Sinfield (5)
Referee: Richard Silverwood.