Super League: Leeds Rhinos 70-6 Salford Red Devils

Zak Hardaker
Zak Hardaker scored two tries and kicked nine goals in the absence of Kevin Sinfield
Leeds (40) 70
Tries: McGuire, Cuthbertson, Watkins, Delaney, Hardaker 2, Hall 2, Moon, Keinhorst, Walters, Ablett 2 Goals: Hardaker 9
Salford (0) 6
Tries: Evalds Goals: Paterson

Leeds Rhinos blew away Salford Red Devils to climb back to the Super League summit with a 13-try crushing.

Brian McDermott's Rhinos were unseated from the top by Saints' win over Warrington on Thursday but moved ahead again with a record summer-era success.

The previous highest victory between the two was 56-6 to the Rhinos in 2001.

Defeat ends Salford's hopes of a top eight finish, leaving them with the prospect of the Middle 8s in the forthcoming Super 8s split.

The arrival of Australia coach Tim Sheens as director of rugby was intended to give Salford a late season boost but missing out on the top tier is a major dent to their ambitions, given the financial investment by owner Marwan Koukash.

That said, the Rhinos were ruthless in their execution, bouncing back from defeat by Wigan to overhaul Saints in the table and put themselves in pole position for top spot with a game to go.

Salford had early possession and territory but completely melted once Danny McGuire capitalised with smart footwork for the opening score.

What followed was a point a minute first-half performance, as Adam Cuthbertson crashed in, swiftly followed by Kallum Watkins out wide after Salford's Adrian Morley was sent to the sin-bin on what will be his final encounter with his former club.

Brett Delaney pounced on a McGuire grubber to score, Zak Hardaker added a try to his goalkicking points before a left-side combination involving Ryan Hall and Joel Moon rounded off the first period scoring.

Salford showed more mettle in the early part of the second half but Leeds moved up a gear when Ash Handley made a clean break to feed Hardaker for his second.

Niall Evalds dropped onto a Michael Dobson grubber to get Salford on the board but Hall's second, Jimmy Keinhorst's effort, Josh Walters' score and Carl Ablett's double ensured it was of little consolation.

Leeds head coach Brian McDermott:

"My experience of coaching London means I know what it's like being on the end of bad scorelines and I know that Salford's players are not that bad. To concede 70 points you usually ask questions of the players but, on this occasion, Marwan Koukash needs to stand up and apologise to everybody.

"It embarrasses me to be involved in rugby league when there is an owner of a club conducting himself how he is - saying what he wants, when he wants and how he wants. He needs to realise that that is not how to lead a club.

"That group of players are not that bad and what we saw out there was a completely demoralised, shot group of players who lack confidence. It's not because they have had bad coaching or have bad conditions but they are demoralised by what goes on off of the field.

"I wouldn't want to be led by a person who is erratic and says the things he does about his own group of players - that (the scoreline) is absolutely his fault. There are some good people in that team who don't give up that easy so there are questions to be answered and lessons on leadership to be learned by the owner."

Salford Red Devils acting head coach Ian Watson:

"We had a good week and two good wins beforehand so we didn't see it coming.

"We didn't turn up with the right attitude today and we now look for a response and what matters is how we respond, as a coach, as a player and as a club when you have had a tough loss."

Leeds: Hardaker; Handley, Watkins, Moon, Hall; McGuire, Burrow; Leuluai, Aiton, Cuthbertson, Keinhorst, Ablett, Delaney

Replacements: Singleton, Walters, R. Ward, Garbutt

Salford: N. Evalds; Jones-Bishop, Sa'u, J. Griffin, Caton-Brown; Fages, Dobson; Morley, L. Tomkins, Taylor, Paterson, Hauraki, G. Griffin

Replacements: Hansen, D. Griffin, J. Walne, Hood

Attendance: 14,190

Referee: Ben Thaler (RFL)

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