Late rally by Salford fails to halt Rhinos' charge

Salford 22 Leeds 30

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The Independent Online

Salford are running out of chances to leave The Willows for their new stadium with any recent, happy memories.

If that was their declared ambition in their last season at their historic ground, then their new coach, Matt Parish – whose first home game this was – will at least have gleaned from it that they can give some of their more upmarket rivals in Super League a genuine fight.

Without dominating or playing particularly well, Leeds looked like beating them with something to spare, leading 18-0 at half-time. To their credit, though, the Reds fought back to within one score in the second half.

Salford were the more dangerous side in the first 15 minutes, but when the Rhinos took the lead it was with a classic breakaway try. Stefan Ratchford kicked for the corner, but the ball fell for Kallum Watkins to launch the counter-attack. When he ran out of space, he found his hooker Danny Buderus in support to throw the long pass for Ryan Hall to score on the opposite wing.

Worse still for Salford, Daniel Holsworth's restart went out on the full, inviting Leeds to mount another attack, which ended with Buderus, again, sending Ryan Bailey over. The Rhinos struck again incisively before half-time, Carl Ablett releasing Danny McGuire for Kevin Sinfield to convert.

Salford finally got something to show for their possession when an attack sparked by Ratchford ended with Vinnie Anderson serving the ball up for Luke Patten. The impact of that was instantly nullified by Rob Burrow's electrifying break to set up Brent Webb for the fourth Leeds try.

Salford struck back with a Jodie Broughton try, before the Reds began to dream of an upset when, with 14 minutes left, Ratchford kicked precisely for Anderson to catch and score.

Anderson was brought back for an obstruction when he could have been on his way to an equalising try, but a Sinfield penalty and a conversion of Lee Smith's try wrapped it up, despite Lee Jewitt's late try for Salford.

Salford: Patten; Broughton, Henry, Gleeson, Williams; Ratchford, Holdsworth; Casmere, M Smith, Boyle, Anderson, Nero, Wild. Substitutes used: Godwin, Jewitt, Neal, Sidlow.

Leeds: Webb; L Smith, Watkins, Ablett, Hall; Sinfield, Burrow; Bailey, Buderus, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Pitts, Clarkson. Substitutes used: McGuire, Leuluai, Lauitiiti, Kirke.

Referee: R Silverwood (Mirfield).