Salford Red Devils recorded a fourth consecutive Betfred Super League victory, against Leeds Rhinos tonight.
Headingley is famously not a happy hunting ground for the Red Devils, but some potent attacking play and gritty defending has ensured Paul Rowley’s men remain in the top six – moving just four points off the top.
They almost made a flying start on two minutes when a neat passing sequence ended with Ryan Brierley stabbing a grubber kick into the right corner, but Rhys Williams was just out of touch upon grounding.
As was the case for a lot of the game, Leeds took control of possession for the next period of the game and really tested our defensive resolve.
We came out on top first time around, with a combination of Salford bodies forcing a knock-on and pushing us further up-field.
Brierley forced a goal-line drop out with a nice chase and even though Leeds did hold-out from the next set, Blake Austin’s attempted kick on the fourth tackle trickled out of touch.
Brodie Croft almost created an opening with a deft kick, but skipper, Kallum Watkins was pulled back by Blake Austin and the Leeds number six was sent to the sin bin.
After some persistent pressure and clever play with ball in hand, we finally broke the deadlock on 19 minutes.
A quick play-the-ball from Andy Ackers and nice hands on the right created the numbers for Williams to crash over in the corner – Sneyd added the extras to kick-off another reliable night with the boot.
One quickly became two with Sam Stone continuing to build-on some pre-international break momentum. Twisting and turning away from his man, the Aussie stretched out his right hand to place the ball just over the try line.
The 2022 Grand Finalist’s responded well, but to a man, we dug deep and kept out effort after effort on our line.
It did come at a price, however, with Brierley taking a blow to the eye and unable to play any further part in the match.
The hosts did strike just before half-time. Blake Austin made the initial dart and had Richie Myler in support to collect and stroll under the sticks.
HALF-TIME: Leeds Rhinos 6-12 Salford Red Devils
The second-half began with a real arm wrestle and both sides were conceding penalties aplenty.
After making good metres on one set, a bobbling kick by Sneyd was chased down well by Salford and the resulting drop-out was sent out of touch by Rhyse Martin.
Sneyd took the two and relieved a bit of pressure to extend our advantage.
Then, perhaps the biggest moment of the game was delivered by our reigning Man of Steel.
Croft sent what a looked like hard kick under the sticks, but it was inch-perfect for Ellis Longstaff – who had a fine game at centre – to slide over in front of the jubilant Salford end.
Our number seven converted and then added a further two points just minutes later when Leeds were penalised again just 20 metres out.
The Rhinos hit back via James Bentley when the ball ricocheted on the left and kept the game alive, but just like all season, the highlight of the remaining 20 minutes was our effort in defence.
There was some scramble and some shaky moments, but a collective effort saw the game out and earned a memorable victory.
FULL-TIME: Leeds Rhinos 12-22 Salford Red Devils
Photo credit: Steve McCormick