Salford is the unexpected name in the top half of the table after this third successive win, which must rank as one of their best in Super League. London Broncos were desperately poor – it was easy to see why they are still without a win – but even allowing for that it was an exhilarating Reds' display, although sadly watched by only a meagre crowd at their new stadium.
Luke Patten arrived at Salford with such a reputation last year that his actual performances were a sad disappointment. However, his quality has started to come through this season and he was the key figure as his team took control of the game.
"It's the best game Luke has played for Salford," said his coach, Phil Veivers. "We created a lot of opportunities, played some good footy and for the first 65 minutes I was over the moon with our defence."
It was Patten's mazy run that shredded the defence to set up Chris Nero for the first try and soon after that his spin out of a tackle almost put him over for another. Best of all was his one-handed pick-up and 20-metre return of a devious little kick from Craig Gower.
Feka Palea'aesina is another man transformed and in his case the difference is plain to see. Someone has finally made him get fit. As soon as he came off the bench last night, he was making a damaging charge. The next time he carried the ball he released Luke Adamson for Salford's second try and barely looked out of breath.
A lovely pass out of dummy half from another substitute, Gareth Owen, got the ball rolling for a third try, completed by Stephen Wild's run and pass to the supporting Matty Smith. This time, Dean Holdsworth added the goal as he did again before half-time when the new, lithe Palea'aesina showed that there is still quite enough power in his frame to drive the ball over the try-line from close range.
The conventional wisdom on the Broncos is that there is too much ability and experience in their side for them not to come good at some point. That point looked very distant last night, especially when Salford opened the second half with two quick tries.
First, Sean Gleeson went over and then Nero's run down the left wing sent in Joel Moon. Patten and Moon combined to lay on another for Nero, who was relishing going through some token tackling, followed by Gleeson doing much the same on the other flank.
David Howell at last got London on the scoreboard in the 65th minute, followed by one for Antonio Kaufusi, but afterwards the London coach, Rob Powell, called it "the quietest dressing room I've ever known."
Salford: Patten; Nero, Moon, Gleeson, Gibson; Holdsworth, Smith; McPherson. Howarth, Boyle, Ashurst, Adamson, Wild. Subs used: Palea'aesina, Owen, James, Jewitt.
London Broncos: Robertson; Caro, O'Callaghan, Howell, Colbon; Witt, Gower; Kaufusi, Randall, Bryant, Bailey, Golden, Melling. Subs used: Rinaldi, Krasniqi, Dorn, Cook.
Referee: B Thaler (Wakefield).
* Winger Ryan Hall ran in a hat-trick of tries as Leeds overcame Castleford 36-14 at the Probiz Coliseum last night.