Super League: Salford City Reds 16-42 Leeds Rhinos

Salford City Reds (6) 16

  • Tries: Gibson, Gaskell, Fages
  • Goals: Sneyd, Gaskell

Leeds Rhinos (24) 42

  • Tries: Watkins 2, Hardaker, Burrow, Ablett, Jones-Bishop, Minchella
  • Goals: Sinfield 7

Leeds Rhinos made light work of struggling Salford as Kallum Watkins scored twice in a routine win.

After Watkins had opened the scoring, Zak Hardaker burst through Lee Gaskell and ran 50 metres to cross before Ashley Gibson pulled a try back.

Leeds crossed twice more to make it 24-6 at the break.

Ben Jones-Bishop and Watkins scored either side of Gaskell to stretch the Rhinos' advantage before the sides grabbed another try apiece.

The Academy of Leeds

Leeds Rhinos' 17-man squad for the trip to Salford included 13 academy graduates and only one overseas player, while at 17 years and six months, Elliot Minchella became their sixth youngest debutant of the Super League era.

The result, coupled with Wigan's defeat by Huddersfield, pulls fourth-placed Leeds to within two points of the Warriors in second, while Salford stay 13th.

The Rhinos were missing prolific winger Ryan Hall because of illness and included 17-year-old loose-forward Elliot Minchella among their replacements.

It took the champions 20 minutes to get on the scoresheet, Watkins the beneficiary of a fabulous break from Hall's deputy Liam Sutcliffe, who selflessly played the centre in. Hardaker then produced an even more devastating run, crossing after bursting clear in his own half.

Salford hit back with a well-worked effort, Gibson scoring following an excellent cross-field kick from half-back Marc Sneyd, but Leeds were seemingly only keen on the spectacular, replying via a Rob Burrow 40-metre dash for the line.

Carl Ablett added another before the break and played Jones-Bishop in to make the game safe shortly after the restart.

Gaskell then outpaced Hardaker in the corner to pull one back, but Watkins and debutant Minchella went over either side of a Theo Fages try to seal an emphatic win.

Leeds captain Kevin Sinfield kicked seven goals on the night he became the third player, after ex-Rhinos team-mate Keith Senior [413] and St Helens full-back Paul Wellens [401], to make 400 Super League appearances.

VIEWS FROM THE DRESSING ROOM

Salford City Reds head coach Brian Noble:

"I can't fault my players and the scoreline did flatter Leeds, but they counter-punched really well and their super players turned up when they were needed.

"Some of our young kids were given time and showed real promise. Will Hope has had a bad shoulder all year but did well and Niall Evalds toiled hard.

"Jordan Davies showed glimpses in the centre of what he may be able to do but our best player was Stephen Wild who led the team really well.

"The fans got behind us and they sensed the players commitment and effort."

Leeds Rhinos head coach Brian McDermott:

"We faced a resilient Salford and had to fight hard. The scoreline flattered us a bit and we scored a few long range tries but you have to credit Salford's tenacity. They wouldn't go away.

"[Elliot] Minchella has been a stand out performer in the Under-19s this season and showed up well. It was nice for him to score a try.

"But it's a real shame for Jimmy [Keinhorst] who goes into our injury room with the others [with a dislocated shoulder]."

FRIDAY'S LINE-UPS

Salford City Reds: Gaskell; Evalds, Gibson, McGoldrick, D. Williams; Sneyd, Fages; Jewitt, Owen, Emmitt, Hope, Dixon, Wild.

Replacements: A. Walne, J. Walne, Davies, Davidson.

Leeds Rhinos: Hardaker; Jones-Bishop, Watkins, Keinhorst, Sutcliffe; Sinfield, Burrow; Leuluai, McShane, Peacock, Clarkson, Ablett, Moore.

Replacements: Kirke, Singleton, Foster, Minchella.

Referee: George Stokes (RFL).

Attendance: 3,235