Salford won a bruising, error-strewn encounter against Leigh 12-6 on Good Friday to extend their winning run to five.
For long parts of the game it seemed like the Red Devils just woudn’t break the Leigh defence, which was much improved following two disappointing home defeats.
Gareth O’Brien’s converted try 13 minutes from time, the only score of the second half, was all that separated the two sides in the end at the AJ Bell Stadium.
The game started as it meant to go on, with a succession of penalties and errors.
It was from consecutive penalties that Leigh built their first bit of pressure, Ben Reynolds forcing a drop out with a low kick after four sets on the Salford line.
They were punished for not taking advantage of that chance when Michael Dobson took a penalty at goal to put Salford 2-0 up early on.
There was very little of note to report until Junior Sa’u awoke us from our slumber with a 60 metres break that was only halted when he put the backburners on in the search for some support, and a few plays later Glenn Stewart stopped what would have been a certain try for Dobson.
It’s been a season of growing incidents involving match officials and there may be another one for the disciplinary panel to look at, Gregg McNally pushing referee Jack Smith out of the way to get to a Dobson kick through and push behind for a goal line drop out, not that you could blame the Centurions full-back.
Stewart was again in the right place at the right time to retrieve a Dobson kick, and Leigh were then given a break when a poor last tackle play by them was neutralised by an error by Justin Carney that saw him catch the ball and then go in to touch.
It was from there that Leigh were able to get the first try on the board, on the half hour mark. Martin Ridyard, partnering Reynolds at half-back, kicked through and Mitch Brown won the race to touch down.
Brown’s afternoon was ended before the half time hooter, he was forced off with a head knock following a lengthy stoppage, and it was on the resumption of play from that incident that Salford finally broke the whitewash.
They shifted right and as Kris Welham looked to create the overlap, he found a gap of his own and ran 20 metres to level things up at the break.
Salford started the second half much brighter, and they spent most of the next 40 minutes camped in Leigh’s half.
For all of their efforts though, they just couldn’t break down the Leigh defence, despite a near immaculate kicking performance from Dobson that forced no fewer than four goal line drop outs in the second period.
Leigh were struggling to even get out of their own 20 metres at times, and it was a relief for them when they were finally able to make their way up the other end, Ridyard’s bomb well taken by Greg Johnson.
Just as the Centurions started to grow in confidence, a big shot by Craig Kopczak on Danny Tickle, playing as a makeshift centre in Brown’s absence, swung the pendulum well and truly back in Salford’s favour.
And eventually they found the break through, a quick move right looked to have the Leigh defence scrambling, and when Ridyard slipped, O’Brien was able to slide through and claim the matchwinning score.
Elsewhere in Super League on Friday afternoon, Hull suffered a second successive home hammering as they shipped a half century of points in losing 52-24 against Leeds, while Castleford marched on with a 42-24 win over Wakefield at a packed Jungle.
Earlier in the day, Wigan had seen off 12-man St Helens 29-18 at the DW Stadium.
Salford: O’Brien, Johnson, Welham, Sau, J Carney, Lui, Dobson, Tasi, Tomkins, Mossop, Jones, Murdoch-Masila, Flanagan. Subs: Kopczak, Griffin, Wood, Walne.
Leigh: McNally, Higson, Crooks, Brown, Dawson, Reynolds, Ridyard, Acton, Higham, Tickle, Vea, Stewart, Hansen. Subs: Pelissier, Weston, Hopkins, Burr.