Salford Red Devils kicked-off their 2023 Betfred Super League adventure with a hard-fought 10-20 victory over Leigh Leopards.
It hands the Red Devils their first-ever win at Leigh Sports Village, but a more important two competition points to get the season up and running.
Paul Rowley’s side showed their intent right from the start. After our first set, Ryan Brierley chased a high kick 60 metres downfield to pin Leigh in their own 20.
The hosts quickly took control of the game soon after, however. Despite some excellent defending, a well-worked move left and a high, spinning pass by Lachlan Lam found Josh Charnley to charge and slide over in the corner.
Salford had to pick themselves up and build some momentum. A combination of bodies crashed Lam out of touch on the half-hour mark and that was the moment the tide really did turn.
After building some pressure, Andy Ackers sprung from the ruck and found Brodie Croft 10 metres out. Club captain, Kallum Watkins was already alive and our number six played a neat short pass to send him through the gap and over the try-line. Marc Sneyd converting for the first of four successful goals.
One quickly became two when Ryan Brierley forced a goal-line drop out. Around five metres out, Ackers sprung out of dummy half and sold Leigh with a dummy to scurry under the posts.
HALF TIME: Leigh Leopards 4-12 Salford Red Devils
Leigh started the second-half on the front foot, but in the 50th minute, it was our number one who got himself on the scoresheet.
Croft – at the heart of a lot of our attacking play – weaved his way through the Leigh line 40 metres out and teed up the supporting Brierley to race through and slide under the sticks.
His try was important, but a last-ditch challenge on Charnley moments later was equally as important. The Leigh winger raced away down the right and only had our full-back to beat; but despite so much twisting and turning, Brierley executed a perfect tackle to stop a certain try.
It did come at a cost, however, with Sneyd sent to the sin bin for holding down at the ruck.
Brierley made yet another try-saving tackle minutes later. Lam raced down Salford’s centre and backed his speed to race over in the corner, but our full-back was on hand to drag him down.
Leigh played quick and tried to stab a grubber kick into the corner, with the video referee penalising Watkins for a professional foul and awarding Leigh a penalty-try.
With Sneyd off the field and Leigh pilling on the pressure, Salford’s defence was excellent in the final 20 minutes and worked extremely hard to protect their eight-point lead.
They were even awarded a penalty one minute from time – with Sneyd converting to make the two points safe.
Attentions now turn to our first home game of the season. You can watch the Entertainers back at the Salford Stadium by clicking HERE!
FULL-TIME: Leigh Leopards 10-20 Salford Red Devils
Image Credit: Steve McCormick