Rugby League: Blakeley rampant

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STEVE BLAKELEY showed what a key man he could be in a Salford revival as they ended their run of 14 Super League matches without a win by beating London Broncos 31-14, writes Dave Hadfield.

The England stand-off did not always look the happiest of players under Andy Gregory, but with Salford poised to confirm John Harvey as their new coach today Blakeley produced his best rugby. He ran in three excellent tries, made another and landed five goals and a drop goal for a personal tally of 23 points that was enough to beat a flat and weary London on its own.

After two creditable performances in the wake of Wembley, they looked like a team at the end of a 50-match season rather than partway through a 30-match one. They even had the boost of an early try when Dominic Peters went over in the corner, but they were always second best after that.

A run from the influential Darren Brown set up Blakeley for his first try and Brown then supplied the ball for Stuart Littler that led to Mark Johnson claiming Salford's second. After Blakeley had given them a commanding lead, Martin Offiah collected Karle Hammond's kick to haul the margin back to eight points. But Blakeley's break allowed Bobby Thompson to reply immediately and even when Greg Fleming capitalised on Martin Crompton's absence in the sin-bin to grab another London try, the Reds had plenty in reserve. Blakeley rounded things off by completing his hat-trick.

Salford Reds: Thompson; Johnston, Littler, Broadbent, Carige; Blakeley, Crompton; Makin, Alker, Southern, Brown, Bradbury, Hulme. Substitutes used: E Faimalo, J Faimalo, Smith.

London Broncos: Fleming; Peters, Ryan, Timu, Offiah; Hammond, Air; Cram, Beazley, Millard, Seibold, Toshack, Gill. Substitutes used: Callaway, Spencer, Salter, Wynyard.

Referee: N Oddy (Halifax).