Super League: Leeds Rhinos edge out Salford Red Devils
Last Updated: 25/07/14 11:09pm
Leeds' Kallum Watkins scores the try of the night against Salford. This one started in the Rhino's half!
Leeds overcame the absence of Kevin Sinfield to maintain their challenge for top spot in Super League with a 22-18 success that brought Salford's three-match winning run to an end.
The Rhinos' victory keeps them just two points behind leaders St Helens but deals a major blow to the play-off hopes of the Red Devils, who are now four points behind eighth-placed Widnes with five matches left.
In addition to the suspended Sinfield, Leeds were also without forwards Brett Delaney, Ryan Bailey and Mitch Achurch through injury but their youthful bench players showed they were up to the task as they held off a strong challenge from their in-form hosts, who lost star full-back Kevin Locke with a back injury before half-time.
The absence of Sinfield paved the way for Leeds to turn back the clock by reuniting Danny McGuire and Rob Burrow in the halves and it was the scurrying Burrow who produced the first break of the match.
That came to nothing, however, and it was Salford who opened the scoring on 12 minutes when centre Junior Sa'u beat Ryan Hall to the ball after Locke had threaded it through the visitors defence to claim his 11th try of the season.
Josh Griffin's conversion made it 6-0 but Leeds struck a purple patch to go 12-6 ahead.
Full-back Zak Hardaker dived full length to ground the ball from McGuire's stabbed kick before centre Kallum Watkins finished off a spectacular 60-metre move started by hooker Paul Aiton and continued by winger Tom Briscoe.
Hardaker added both goals but the Red Devils finished the first half the stronger side, despite losing Locke five minutes before the break.
Scrum-half Theo Fages had a try disallowed for a forward pass but he was not denied shortly afterwards after winning the chase to Rangi Chase's kick to the line and Griffin tied the scores with his second conversion.
There was little to choose between the sides but another momentum shift early in the second half saw Leeds open up a 10-point advantage.
Second rower Carl Ablett twisted and turned out of a three-man tackle to score one of his trademark opportunist tries and Stevie Ward scythed through the Salford defence for another after a break by fellow substitute Liam Sutcliffe had set up field position.
Salford, too, enjoyed significant impact from the bench, with Niall Evalds slotting nicely into Locke's position and forward Jordan Walne getting his side back in the game by taking Chase's drop-off pass to score his first try of the season.
Griffin's third goal meant there was just four points in it and it stayed that way after Hardaker missed with a 40-metre penalty kick at goal.
That was the signal for the Red Devils to launch one last effort and Sa'u went on a rampaging run for the line only to lose the ball in Hardaker's tackle.
First Utility Super League
Thu 16th Apr
Wigan Warriors30 - 20Warrington Wolves
Fri 17th Apr
St Helens16 - 41Leeds Rhinos
Sun 19th Apr
Huddersfield Giants38 - 14Catalans Dragons
Widnes Vikings46 - 16Castleford Tigers
Thu 23rd Apr
Wakefield WildcatsvsWigan Warriors
Fri 24th Apr
Hull FC0 - 0Huddersfield Giants
Leeds RhinosvsWarrington Wolves
St Helens0 - 0Widnes Vikings
Sat 25th Apr
Catalans DragonsvsHull K R
Sun 26th Apr
Salford Red Devils0 - 0Castleford Tigers
Thu 30th Apr
Huddersfield GiantsvsLeeds Rhinos
Fri 1st May
Hull FC0 - 0Salford Red Devils
St Helens0 - 0Wakefield Wildcats
Wigan Warriors0 - 0Hull K R
Sun 3rd May
Warrington Wolves0 - 0Widnes Vikings
Castleford Tigers0 - 0Catalans Dragons
Thu 7th May
Hull K RvsWakefield Wildcats
Fri 8th May
Salford Red Devils0 - 0Huddersfield Giants
Wigan Warriors0 - 0Castleford Tigers
Sat 9th May
Catalans DragonsvsSt Helens
Sun 10th May
Warrington Wolves0 - 0Hull FC
Widnes Vikings0 - 0Leeds Rhinos
Thu 21st May
Castleford TigersvsHuddersfield Giants
Fri 22nd May
Hull FC0 - 0St Helens
Leeds Rhinos0 - 0Hull K R
Salford Red Devils0 - 0Warrington Wolves
Sat 23rd May
Catalans DragonsvsWigan Warriors
Sun 24th May
Wakefield Wildcats0 - 0Widnes Vikings
Sat 30th May
Salford Red Devils0 - 0Widnes Vikings
Hull FC0 - 0Hull K R
Leeds Rhinos0 - 0Wigan Warriors
Sun 31st May
Catalans Dragons0 - 0Huddersfield Giants
St Helens0 - 0Warrington Wolves
Castleford Tigers0 - 0Wakefield Wildcats
Thu 4th Jun
Widnes VikingsvsHull FC
Fri 5th Jun
St Helens0 - 0Salford Red Devils
Sun 7th Jun
Huddersfield Giants0 - 0Wigan Warriors
Hull K R0 - 0Castleford Tigers
Wakefield Wildcats0 - 0Leeds Rhinos
Warrington Wolves0 - 0Catalans Dragons
Thu 11th Jun
Leeds RhinosvsCastleford Tigers
Fri 12th Jun
St HelensvsWigan Warriors
Sat 13th Jun
Catalans DragonsvsHull FC
Sun 14th Jun
Huddersfield Giants0 - 0Warrington Wolves
Hull K R0 - 0Widnes Vikings
Wakefield Wildcats0 - 0Salford Red Devils
Thu 18th Jun
Castleford TigersvsSt Helens
Fri 19th Jun
Wigan Warriors0 - 0Salford Red Devils
Sat 20th Jun
Catalans DragonsvsWakefield Wildcats
Super League 2014, Round 22
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