Leeds shook off their Scottish hangover to begin some modest and much-needed progress up the Super League table. The risk of playing a League game three days after defeat in the Challenge Cup final looked a bad one at a couple of stages at Headingley last night, but the Rhinos eventually showed the right attitude to put their disappointment behind them with nobody more effective than Karl Pratt, a young player who was surplus to requirement at Murrayfield on Saturday.
Salford's feeling that this might be a good night to play Leeds was reinforced by the first few minutes, during which Pratt twice had to make try-saving interventions before Martin Offiah picked up the pieces from Paul Southern's break to record the game's first points.
Pratt, disappointed to be left out of the Cup final squad, was the man who replied, taking Chev Walker's pass after the centre had drawn Offiah.
Nick Pinkney's marvellous chase then denied Francis Cummins but Pratt played a key part again, sending the ball across field for Adrian Morley to set up Keith Senior.
When Iestyn Harris sent David Barnhill over and kicked his second conversion, Leeds seemed to be taking control, but immediately before half-time the Salford substitute, Joe Faimalo, took a pass from Simon Svabic and found the angle to beat the defence, Svabic's conversion leaving Salford well in touch.
Salford completed their recovery with Gary Broadbent's try from Mark Lee's clever little kick straight after the break, but as soon as they had got back on terms they began to undermine their own efforts.
Neil Baynes conceded a penalty to allow Harris to kick the home side back into the lead and Leeds never looked back after that. Pratt, rightly named as man of the match, scored his second try after a spell of insistent pressure and Leeds kept the ball alive again for Ryan Sheridan to take them clear.
Harris sold an impudent dummy for another try, with Graham Mackay claiming one on his debut and Barry McDermott rounding it off. The win takes Leeds above Salford in the lower reaches: a small step, but a significant one.
Leeds Rhinos: St Hilaire; Pratt, Walker, Senior, Cummins; Harris, Sheridan; Ward, Lawford, McDermott, Morley, Barnhill, Sinfield. Substitutes used: Hay, Mackay, Mathiou, Jackson.
Salford City Reds: Broadbent; Pinkney, Nicol, Webber, Offiah; Svabic, Lee; Southern, Alker, Baynes, Smith, Highton, Wainwright. Substitutes used: Faimalo, Tassell, Hepi, Duffy.
Referee: K Kirkpatrick (Warrington).