Salford handed a rude awakening by Rowley

Leigh 20 Salford

Dave Hadfield
Monday 17 February 2003 01:00

If Salford were under any misapprehension that life outside Super League is going to be easy, they were given a warning to the contrary yesterday in an Arriva Trains Cup game from which they struggled to escape with a draw.

The City Reds might be the overwhelming favourites for promotion when the main business of National League One begins at Easter, but they will need to improve on this display if they are to justify that rating.

Like Leigh, last year's beaten finalists, they have plenty of newcomers in their squad and that could have explained the lack of cohesion from both sides for much of the match.

An error-ridden opening by the home side saw them fall behind after two minutes, Neil Baynes's bulk taking him over the line from a tap penalty.

After that, the first half belonged to Leigh, who levelled four minutes later when the outstanding Paul Rowley went from dummy-half and Sean Richardson got over the line.

Salford's tackling was fallible and they were punished again when Adam Bristow adroitly stepped past three defenders for a try, converted by John Duffy, that put Leigh ahead.

After the visitors' Chris Charles had been sin-binned for the latest in a series of offences in the tackle, Leigh could have been expected to stretch their lead, but they were restricted to another goal from Duffy. However after half-time they did seem to have taken a firm grip when Rowley's run set up Duffy for another converted try.

Salford went a long way towards rescuing the game in two minutes that brought them two tries. Stuart Littler capitalised on a period of pressure for the first and then linked with Malcolm Alker's defence-splitting run to put Alan Hunte in for the second.

When Hunte was controversially penalised for not playing the ball, Duffy's penalty seemed to have edged Leigh back into a winning position, but Littler's second, from a scrum-based move, and Lee Marsh's goal cut the margin to two points and a penalty conceded for interfering in the tackle by Phil Kendrick, duly sent to the sin bin, gave Marsh the equalising goal.

Neither side could find a winning drop goal in the final couple of minutes remaining and the Salford coach Karl Harrison was reasonably satisfied with the draw. "I thought we were poor with the ball, but we probably deserved something in the end,'' he said.

Leigh: Alstead; Rivett, Munro, Cardoza, Hadcroft; Weisner, Duffy; Nickle, Rowley, Ball, Richardson, Henare, Bristow. Substitutes used: Bradbury, Watts, Hamilton, Kendrick.

Salford: Flowers; Hunte, Littler, Beverley, Platt; Bowker, Clinch; Baynes, Alker, Coley, Baldwin, Lowe, Charles. Substitutes used: Marsh, D Highton, Gorski, Hilton.

Referee: R Laughton (Barnsley).

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