Salford Red Devils suffered another late defeat at the Salford Stadium, with Ben Reynolds 73rd minute penalty-goal the difference between the two sides.
Sam Stone was back in the Red Devils side, with Chris Atkin operating at loose forward in the absence of the suspended Ollie Partington.
Both sides started strong in D and exchanged sets around the halfway line. Lachlan Lam forcing a drop-out was the only notable highlight of the first ten minutes, but Marc Sneyd’s return kick was even better and bobbled out of touch.
The same source forced a knock-on with his grubber on the last and the Red Devils pounced to open the scoring.
On the second tackle, we spread the ball right and Chris Atkin’s loose pass sat up favourably for Ken Sio to slide over for Super League try number 99.
The Leopards hit straight back on 16-minutes, with John Asiata throwing a dummy and teeing up Ed Chamberlain to slide over on the left.
One quickly became two for the visitors, with Ricky Leutele managing to ground the ball in the left corner, despite the best efforts of Croft.
Paul Rowley rang the changes and the interchanges injected a bit of life into Salford with ball in hand.
Perhaps a moment of genius from Sneyd was the moment momentum swung back in our favour; pulling off a stunning 40-20 to hand his side a huge chance to capitalise.
Adam Sidlow almost scurried over on our first play, but King Vuniyayawa made no mistake on our second probe of the Leigh line – crashing over to get us back into the contest.
The Salford Stadium was rocking and we almost had another when Joe Burgess ran 80 metres to touch down.
Tim Lafai had forced a knock-on when he crashed into the charging Gaz O’Brien, but despite the ball ricocheting Burgess’ way, the referee chose not to play advantage and instead decided pulled it back for the Leigh knock-on.
No time was wasted from the restart and we made good metres towards the Leopards line.
In typical Andy Ackers style, our number nine darted out of dummy-half and into a gap under the sticks to hand us a half-time lead.
HALF-TIME: Salford Red Devils 16-10 Leigh Leopards
We needed the same intensity after the break and continued to find joy down the left edge.
Lafai made a stunning break on 47-minutes, and despite being dragged down by O’Brien, a quick play-the-ball and some clever play from Croft sent the charging Ben Hellewell onto the end of a neat grubber kick.
It felt like – with Sneyd’s conversion – we were really in the ascendancy, but things soon changed for the worse.
Tom Amone stepped inside his man and flicked a pass to Lam, who slide over to half the deficit.
Next it was Zak Hardaker who took advantage of a mix-up on the Salford line to gather the ball and slide over in the right corner.
And then, just like last week against Leeds Rhinos, it was the discipline that cost Rowley’s side in the end.
Sneyd sent a drop-goal wide down one end, and a penalty down the other allowed Reynolds to stick over the two points which earned the Leopards two crucial points.
FULL-TIME: Salford Red Devils 22-24 Leigh Leopards
Photo credit: Steve McCormick