Super League Magic Weekend: Leigh Centurions 22-36 Salford Red Devils
|Betfred Super League - Magic Weekend|
|Leigh Centurions (12) 22|
|Tries: Fleming, Brown, Crooks, Dawson Goals: Drinkwater 3|
|Salford Red Devils (24) 36|
|Tries: Murdoch-Masila 2, Welham, Johnson 2, Evalds Goals: O'Brien 3, Dobson 3|
Salford moved up to second in Super League with victory over Leigh, who were a man down for 25 minutes after Adam Higson was sent off.
Leigh twice led through Matty Fleming and Mitch Brown tries, but Ben Murdoch-Masila's double and further scores from Kris Welham and Greg Johnson put Salford 24-12 up at the break.
Ben Crooks hit back before Higson saw red for a high hit on Gareth O'Brien.
Niall Evalds and Johnson tries against 12-man Leigh sealed the win.
In between Evalds' and Johnson's second-half tries, Matty Dawson went over to give Leigh hope of producing a shock result in their first Magic Weekend appearance - but they could not avoid a ninth straight defeat in all competitions.
It started well for Leigh, as centre Fleming marked his Centurions debut - having arrived five days earlier on loan from St Helens - in fine style, scoring their maiden Magic Weekend try.
Murdoch-Masila got on the end of a neat Michael Dobson kick to pull a try back within three minutes, but Salford did not restore parity until O'Brien kicked a penalty.
A second try from back-rower Murdoch-Masila again restored parity, while another two Red Devils tries and the intervention of the video referees to chalk off Danny Tickle's effort in response saw the Super League high-flyers take a 12-point lead into the break.
Leigh made a lively start with Crooks going over and they had Salford working hard in defence for long periods, but their resurgence was undone by Higson's sending off.
Evalds' try moments later looked to have put the game beyond reach, but Dawson's score in the corner with 17 minutes remaining ensured Salford still had to work hard for the victory.
Leigh Centurions coach Neil Jukes: "It was a straight red. It didn't help, that's for sure. It made the task a lot more difficult.
"What also didn't help was our completion rate. At 50-odd percent completion rate, when they were at nearly 90, we don't help ourselves.
"Every time we scored a try, we backed it up on the next set with an error. I don't think we had the rub of the green. When the margins are really close, you need a bit of luck and we didn't get much today."
Salford Red Devils head coach Ian Watson: "Every week is a big one, but it's pleasing to come here to the Magic Weekend and pick the two points up because it's a big occasion.
"It's a derby and we expected Leigh to turn up. We fell off some of the things we pride ourselves on, which probably made the score in the second half slightly closer than it needed to be.
"But the boys are an honest group and they will know that and they will fix it up because every game is becoming bigger and bigger the higher we sit in the table."
Leigh Centurions: Brown; Dawson, Crooks, Fleming, Higson; Hampshire, Drinkwater; Burr, Hood, Hansen, Paterson, Vea, Stewart.
Replacements: Pelissier, Hock, Tickle, Hopkins.
Salford Red Devils: O'Brien; Johnson, Welham, Sa'u, Evalds; Lui, Dobson; Kopczak, Tomkins, Tasi, Murdoch-Masila, Jones, Krasniqi.
Replacements: Hauraki, Flanagan, Lannon, Brinning.
Referee: James Child.