There maybe trouble ahead!
Following recent defeats at Leigh Centurions and at home to Hull KR the Reds travelled to Headingley under a fair degree of pressure in the hope that they could pull off a win of Preston Guild proportions if they are to avoid the Million Pound game play-off. Coach Ian Watson rang the changes with the most notable of which was the inclusion of Niall Evalds at stand-off. Regular no.6 Robert Lui was relegated to the bench. Daniel Vidot came in on the wing,whilst Weller Hauraki made a rare start in the second-row.
After a delayed start Leeds got on the scoreboard when long-serving Jamie Jones-Buchanan plunged over with the help of the posts in the 6th minute. Liam Sutcliffe slotted home the easiest of conversions.
The Reds though were quick to react and drew level three minutes later when Josh Griffin palmed down a bomb from Michael Dobson to send brother George in for a try. Gareth O’Brien converted (6-6).
The honours were about even until the Reds took a slender lead in the 33rd minute through an O’Brien penalty after Leeds were caught offside.
O’Brien then blotted his copybook when he impeded Rob Burrow and received a spell in the sin-bin for his troubles.
Whilst the Reds were down to twelve men,Leeds took advantage when first of all Jones-Buchanan was denied a second try by some excellent defence under the posts. Leeds though swiftly whipped the ball out wide where Kallum Watkins strode over unopposed to bring a half-time score of 10-8.
The Reds should have taken the lead early after the break when a great charging run from Hauraki saw him brought down agonisingly short. He then made a double movement to hand Leeds a reprieve.
Following that setback the Reds lost their way. Jordan Lilley landed a penalty after a Reds high tackle on Stevie Ward.
Leeds then punished the Reds to run in further tries through James Segeyaro,Carl Ablett and Adam Cuthbertson. All were converted by Lilley for a slightly flattering 30-8 final score.
After holding their own in the first half the Reds contributed to their own downfall committing far too many errors and giving away countless penalties.
Coach Ian Watson struck a positive note later: “I’m very confident in the group of players.
“We’ve had a tough time this year and everybody knows where we should have been – and the players know that as well – but we are where we are now and we have to front up and deal with that.
“With the group I’ve got, I’m very confident we will still get out of it.
“I don’t fear going into the Million Pound Game. I don’t fear the games we’re coming into because I know they will give 100 per cent and their effort is there.
“We need to be smarter more than anything else. That’s what’s costing us at the moment.”
Watson also touched on Hauraki’s failure to score: “It’s a tough one for us because the game was in the balance until Weller’s try and once that was ruled out – and I think wrongly ruled out – the momentum of the game swung then.”
“But we’ve got to think positively now and go forward in these next three games, which are all must-win games for us.
“We’ve got to go three from three and it’s something we’ve got to do as a group.”
Salford: O’Brien, Vidot, Jones, Sau, J Griffin, Evalds, Dobson, Burgess, Tomkins, G Griffin, Murdoch-Masila, Hauraki, Flanagan.
Subs: Lui, Kopczak, Krasniqi, Lannon.
Referee: Mr B Thaler