Leigh lead the way!
Leigh Sports Village
After last week’s impressive win over Huddersfield Giants at the AJ Bell Stadium,coach Ian Watson brought in Niall Evalds on the wing to replace Justin Carney who was side-lined with a thigh injury. Other than Evalds replacing Carney the Reds ran with the same seventeen for this 8’s Qualifiers game.
In their very first set the Reds very nearly opened their scoring when Mason Caton-Brown was pushed into touch close to the try line and shortly after went close again when Robert Lui was put in the clear following good work by Michael Dobson and George Griffin.
The end to end rugby continued with Leigh winger Adam Higson almost squeezing in at the corner off an intelligent pass from Gareth Hock,but Leigh did take the lead in the 7th minute when Reni Maitua strode through the Reds defence to score. Martin Ridyard added the conversion for a 6-0 lead.
Two minutes later Leigh went further ahead when Cory Paterson burst through a gap to score under the posts. Ridyard converted (12-0).
In the 18th minute the Reds stormed back when Caton-Brown found a gap and weaved through the Leigh defence from 60 yards without a finger being laid on him to score under the posts. Gareth O’Brien’s conversion brought a 12-6 scoreline.
Leigh then scored their third try in the 25th minute when Greg McNally chipped through,his kick took a deflection off the arm of a Salford player and he took a pass off Maitua to score. Ridyard slotted home the kick for an 18-6 scoreline.
The Reds then replied in the 31st minute when Niall Evalds crashed over in the corner for an unconverted try (18-10).
Ridyard added a penalty just before the break when Luke Burgess was penalised to give Leigh an interval advantage of 20-10.
The Reds piled on the pressure after the interval with both Ben Murdoch-Masila and Caton-Brown crossing but both efforts were ruled out by the video referee.
There was no stopping Salford though in the 55th minute when Josh Griffin offloaded to Junior Sau who drove through a gap before drawing McNally to send Lui scooting away to score between the posts. O’Brien added the kick to leave the Reds trailing by just four points at 20-16.
This was the Reds best patch of the game but they were not to be rewarded with tries by Sau and Josh Griffin not getting the thumbs-up from the video referee.
In the 73rd minute O’Brien gifted Leigh two points when he booted out on the full from a re-start. Ridyard made no mistake (22-16).
Things went from bad to worse for the Reds when Higson got over the Reds line in the corner. The video referee who certainly wasn’t idle in this game awarded the try. Ridyard’s kick hit the post and into safety but Leigh were looking comfortable at 26-16 with just over five minutes remaining.
There was then a flurry of activity with firstly Leigh scoring again through a Matty Dawson try and Ridyard’s sixth kick and tries for the Reds from Murdoch-Masila and Caton-Brown. O’Brien converted the first of the two late Reds tries but it proved to be a case of too little too late as Leigh held on for a 32-26 win.
After a bright start the Reds failed to deliver but nothing should be taken away from Leigh as they proved more than a match for Super League Salford on this occasion.
Reds coach Ian Watson was clearly not happy with the Reds performance and didn’t seek to place any significance on the fact that they had four tries disallowed by the video referee:”If any had been given they would have still masked a poor performance,”
“It was nothing like us and the first half was very poor.
“It wasn’t good enough and this defeat puts us on the back foot after beating Huddersfield.
“Leigh looked the better team in the first half and their forwards rolled over us, but I am confident with this group of players but we have to be at our best every week in this comp.”
Salford: O’Brien, Evalds, Sau,J Griffin, Caton-Brown, Lui, Dobson, Kopczak, Tomkins, G Griffin, Murdoch-Masila, Mateo, Flanagan.
Subs: Hauraki, Krasniqi, Kenny,Burgess.
Referee: Mr C Campbell
Photo: Ian Watson Salford Red’s Head Coach