Salford slip up at Leigh

Leigh Centurions became the first team to beat a Super League side in this year’s Qualifiers after a 32-26 victory over the Salford Red Devils.

Leigh have now won their first two Middle 8s fixtures while the Red Devils have one win and one loss.

It was the Centurions who opened the scoring as former Salford forward Reni Maitua was put through a huge gap in the visitors’ defence to score.

Martyn Ridyard was successful with the conversion to put the Centurions into a six-point lead.

The try was testament to their defensive efforts after two try-savers, first to deny Mason Caton-Brown and then to deny Robert Lui.

They soon scored again to have a two-try lead inside ten minutes as former Red Devil Cory Paterson managed to evade a couple of poor tackle attempts to score.

Ridyard was successful once again with the conversion to extend the Centurions lead out to 12-0

Caton-Brown then got the try he was threatening six minutes later after finding a gap in the Leigh defence in his own half, he then showed great footwork to get through and go over under the posts.

Gareth O’Brien was successful with the conversion to half Salford’s deficit and made it 12-6.

Just after the 20 minute mark, the Centurions re-established their two try lead after brilliant improvisation from Josh Drinkwater to kick the ball over the defence, leaving a huge gap, and the former London half back played in Greg McNally to score.

Ridyard kept up his 100% record with the boot to reassert their 12 point lead at 18-6.

The Red Devils then reduced the gap again before half time after a fantastic pass from O’Brien put Niall Evalds in in the corner despite the huge cries of forward pass from the Leigh fans.

O’Brien was unsuccessful with the kick but the deficit was reduced to eight leaving the game at 18-10.

Ridyard then stretched the lead out to 10 points with a penalty after Luke Burgess was punished for holding on to Liam Hood in the tackle.

Salford needed the first score of the second half and they were denied it after Ben Murdoch-Masila was ruled to have lost control of the ball in the act of grounding.

They were denied again not long after when Caton-Brown went into touch after a brilliant tackle from Adam Higson.

Their next chance came and they were not to be denied as Junior Sau took advantage of a rare lapse in concentration in the Leigh defence and he played in Robert Lui with a suspiciously forward pass who managed to score.

O’Brien was successful with the conversion, meaning there was only one try in it at 20-16.

The Red Devils then had a third try disallowed by the video referee after Sau was adjudged to have knocked the ball on as he challenged for a kick.

There was soon a fourth no try when Josh Griffin lost the ball as he grounded.

Ridyard then edged Leigh a converted try in front after scoring a penalty when O’Brien put his goal line dropout out on the full.

Higson’s defensive efforts were awarded with the try that put the result beyond doubt after an acrobatic finish in the corner after a quick break from Mitch Brown and from the resulting play the ball, Mickey Higham found Higson to score.

Ridyard hit the post with his conversion meaning the lead was now by 10 points at 26-16.

Matty Dawson then put the icing on the cake after brilliant last tackle play from the Centurions.

Dawson collected a high kick and offloaded to Willie Tonga and just when it seemed he was heading into touch, he brilliantly offloaded to Dawson who grounded the ball successfully.

However, the last word would go to the Red Devils as Murdoch-Masila barged his way through two defenders to score.

O’Brien was successful with his conversion to reduce the deficit to 10 points.

Caton-Brown then scored to set up a grandstand finish after using his speed to get in in the corner. O’Brien missed the conversion to remain a converted try behind.

But the Red Devils couldn’t get down the other end again and suffered their first defeat in the Qualifiers.

The Centurions are now level with Leeds Rhinos at the top of the Middle 8s table, and the Red Devils have dropped to third.

Salford welcome Hull KR to the AJ Bell Stadium next Friday while Leigh travel to Featherstone to take on the Rovers.

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