Super League: Salford Red Devils v Leeds Rhinos preview
Last Updated: 25/07/14 10:29pm
Phil Clarke believes Salford’s game against Leeds will be their biggest test yet as they chase a top-eight place
Salford Red Devils will be aiming to make it a fourth consecutive league success on Friday night when the title-challenging Leeds Rhinos visit the AJ Bell Stadium.
The Red Devils are starting to pay dividends on Marwan Koukash’s investment following victories over Huddersfield Giants, Hull FC and Hull KR in recent weeks.
Koukash insists Salford are still five years behind the Rhinos in terms of development, however, head coach Iestyn Harris will be confident they can upset the odds.
Leeds toppled the Red Devils 32-4 at Headingley in April, although Salford have strengthened since with the additions of Kevin Locke, Mason Caton-Brown and Josh Griffin.
Caton-Brown has been a try-scoring machine since joining from London Broncos, Griffin helped inspire their win over the Robins, while Locke is expected to be fit after missing out last Sunday.
New Zealand international Locke made a try-scoring debut against the Giants, but has been sidelined for their last two wins due to a groin strain.
The Red Devils, who are just four points adrift of eighth-placed Widnes Vikings in the race for the playoffs, are without suspended duo Gareth Hock and Tommy Lee. Lama Tasi is back after serving a two-game ban.
“We are five years behind Leeds and making steady progress. Will be a good test on Friday and we need to be at our very best to compete,” Koukash said on his Twitter account.
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Leeds will be without captain Kevin Sinfield for Friday trip west along the M62 after he picked up a two-match ban for headbutting Castleford’s Luke Dorn in last Thursday’s 24-24 draw.
Danny McGuire will take the captain’s armband and he could be partnered by Liam Sutcliffe in the halves.
Fellow youngsters Brad Singleton, Elliot Minchella and Josh Walters have also been drafted into coach Brian McDermott’s 19-man squad.
"They've been improving for a number of weeks and they've had a couple of big wins recently," McDermott said of Salford. "It's no surprise to us. We struggled against them at our place and were fortunate to get the result really.
"I really rate their pack, they have a couple of exciting fellas at the back and everything goes through Rangi Chase. There's no secret about that and, while you can plan for it and try to stop that, it's a big task to physically do it.
"It's the way they are defending as well. They've got a fair amount of energy and aggression so we need to be good."
Salford Red Devils: Fages, Rapira, Evalds, Sa'u, Johnson, Tasi, Chase, J. Walne, Walton, Locke, Meli, Caton-Brown, Ashurst, Puletua, Hansen, Morley, J. Griffin, Tomkins, D. Griffin.
Leeds Rhinos: Hardaker, Watkins, Moon, Hall, McGuire, Burrow, Leuluai, Aiton, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Ablett, S. Ward, Delaney, Bailey, T. Briscoe, Sutcliffe, Singleton, Minchella, Walters
Don’t miss any of the Super League action on Friday night as Salford Red Devils take on Leeds Rhinos live on Sky Sports 3 from 7.30pm