Salford City reds hung on for this victory that puts them two points clear of Harlequins at the wrong end of the Super League table. Inspired by Daniel Holdsworth's craft in the first half, they were pushed to the limit in the second, thanks to Ben Jones-Bishop's brace of tries.
What could have been a match of little significance in front of a sparse crowd at The Willows was actually contested with plenty of zest and skill.
Both sides attacked before the first half resolved itself with an exhibition of Holdsworth's skills. The Australian half-back created two tries, the first of which came after 10 minutes when he took the ball from Malcolm Alker and sent Luke Swain through a yawning gap.
Quins soon replied when Tony Clubb stood in the tackle to put Rob Purdham over.
They had no answer, however, when Holdsworth again opened them up, this time delaying his pass to send Matty Smith scampering through. Holdsworth landed both conversions, plus another goal when the Londoners were penalised for interfering at the play-the-ball. Holdsworth then put over a simple effort in the second half from another of a series of offences.
Quins then scored a try that brought them back into the match. It was started by Purdham's off-load, continued by Clubb's cross-field run and finished, from what was still long range, by Jones-Bishop's imperious dash down the left wing. Danny Orr added the extras and they were within one score.
Matty Smith's drop-goal nudged the Reds a little further ahead, something that looked particularly valuable when Jones-Bishop went over again. Quins pressed, but the mathematics meant that they had to turn down an easy shot at goal in favour of going for a winning try that eluded them.
Quins finished with serious shoulder injuries to Chad Randall and Purdham, but little in the way of criticism from their coach. "There were a couple of defensive blips early," said Brian McDermott. "I don't think they really challenged our try-line after that."
Salford: Fitzpatrick; Broughton, Henry, Gibson, Tyrer; M Smith, Holdsworth; Boyle, Alker, Leuluai, Sibbit, Littler, Swain. Substitutes used: J Smith, Sidlow, Adamson, Parker.
Harlequins: Dorn; Sharp, Clubb, Jones-Bishop, O'Callaghan; Gale, Randall; Ward, Ellis, Temata, Purdham, Melling, Wilkes. Substitutes used: McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Mills, Orr, Golden.
Referee P Bentham (Warrington)Reuse content