In the current disciplinary climate, there were as many questions about how many cards there would be, as there was about the outcome of tonight´s Super League match between the Salford Red Devils and the Leeds Rhinos at the AJ Bell Stadium.
The Red Devils made several changes to their line-up after last week’s loss, with Ryan Lannon and Elijah Taylor amongst the additions to the starting line-up, while the Rhinos welcomed back skipper Kruise Leeming and new signing James Bentley after their suspensions
In our pre-game Twitter poll 67% of voters believed that it would be the Red Devils who emerged victorious, and the bookies agreed, giving the visitors a two-point start on the handicap coupon.
Salford knocked-on when trying to break away from their defensive line with their first possession of the ball. On the second tackle some quick handling saw the ball into the hands of Ash Handley who bounced over the line and had the try ruled out for a double movement.
On eight minutes Mikolaj Oledzki was on hand to pick up a loose ball, spilled by the Salford defence under the tackle, and take one step to ground by the left upright. Rhyse Martin added the conversion for a 6-0 lead.
On twelve minutes the Red Devils came close to opening their account, but the video referee ruled that Joe Burgess had a foot in touch after the on-field official Smith had originally awarded the try on the field.
But five minutes later Ken Sio collected a pinpoint Ryan Brierley grubber kick and walk two paces to score in the corner. Marc Sneyd converted from the touchline to level the scores.
Ash Handley was on hand to get the four pointer after taking a Jack Walker pass after some terrific handling and passing from the Rhinos. Martin pulled his kick wide of the uprights.
Bodene Thompson was sin-binned on thirty-nine for slowing the pay the ball with the Rhinos under the kosh and defending their own line having given away back-to-back set restarts. Sneyd took the opportunity to kick the penalty to send his side into the sheds trailing by just two points.
Leeds knew that they would be up against it for the opening nine minutes of the second half, but their defence held firm until they returned to a full complement.
Leeds were becoming their own worst enemy when Zane Tetevano was sin-binned on fifty-six for a reckless tackle of Ken Sio which saw the Salford man assisted from the field, another ten minute period with a man short.
An Andy Ackers ball steal on sixty-three gave Martin the time to eat up the clock and kick a penalty goal for the first points of the second half as the Rhinos doubled their lead to 12-8.
A super-fast restart from Burgess after defusing the bomb under his own crossbar saw the Red Devils sprint downfield and after a try saving Oledzki tackle, fast hands put Chris Atkin clear down the right-hand side to slide over in the corner. Sneyd added the touchline conversion to give Salford the lead for the first time in the game.
With nine minutes remaining Elijah Taylor was held up over the line but on the next play he was on hand to hit the pass and pace and bust through the line to ground. Sneyd added the conversion for 20-12, the home side in the driving seat.
It was all over on seventy-eight when Ryan Brierley broke through an exhausted Leeds defence to go in from twenty metres out. Sneyd added the conversion to seal a famous 26-12 win for the Salford Red Devils.
This was a gritty and determines performance from Salford to grab their third win of the season and get one over on one of their bogey sides. It was a team performance with the icing on the cake being the boot of Sneyd. The Rhinos remain in the doldrums with just one win in 2022 and they are now left wondering where the next points might come from as their next Super League outing is against the unstoppable St Helens.
Salford Red Devils: Brierley (T), Sio (T), Cross, Lafai, Burgess, Croft, Sneyd (5G), Ormondroyd, Ackers, Gerrard, Lannon, Wright, Taylor (T). Subs: Burke, Vuniyayawa, Atkin (T), Wells.
Leeds Rhinos: Walker, Handley (T), Broadbent, Sutcliffe, Briscoe, Austin, Sezer, Oledzki (T), Leeming, Tetevano (SB on 56), Martin (2G), Bentley, Smith. Subs: Donaldson, Dwyer, Thompson (SB on 39), Mellor.
Score Progression: 0-4, 0-6, 4-6, 6-6, 6-10, (SB), 8-10: HT : (SB), 8-12, 12-12, 14-12, 18-12, 20-12, 24-12, 26-12: FT.
Referee: Jack Smith.