Super League: Salford Red Devils 8-22 Leeds Rhinos
|Betfred Super League|
|Salford Red Devils (8) 8|
|Tries: Evalds, Lolohea|
|Leeds Rhinos (6) 22|
|Tries: Gale, L Briscoe, Oledzki, Walker Goals: Gale 3|
Leeds Rhinos came from behind to record their second win of the Super League season, beating last year's losing Grand Finalists Salford Red Devils.
Niall Evalds scorched in and Tui Lolohea muscled his way over down the same right edge to put Salford in front, with Luke Gale replying.
Leeds went in front for the first time when Luke Briscoe touched down, and Mikolaj Oledzki went in shortly after.
A Gale penalty and Jack Walker's breakaway score sealed Leeds' victory.
Ian Watson's Salford were in some respects the story of 2019 but having lost the influential Man of Steel Jackson Hastings to Wigan and Great Britain team-mate Josh Jones to Hull, they have not been able to kick off the campaign in the rip roaring way they ended the last.
Leeds were well beaten in their opening match by Hull FC but morale-boosting wins over Hull KR and now the Red Devils suggest their new arrivals such as Gale and Matt Prior have acclimatised to the system.
On a chilly afternoon with the wind swirling at times, Leeds showed mettle to fight back against a home side who initially adapted better to the conditions.
They took advantage of field position and a penalty for a high shot on Chris Atkin to score down the right through Evalds, and Lolohea targeted the same defensive unit to charge over against his old club.
However, the loss of Krisnan Inu to a knee injury and Luke Yates after he failed a head injury assessment, plus missed goal kicks, gave Leeds hope and they got themselves on the board when a sparkling break by Rhinos hooker Brad Dwyer from dummy-half just before the break was finished off by the supporting Gale.
Salford had opportunities in the second period, with Joey Lussick twice held out, but Leeds ended up taking their chances to run out clear winners.
Leeds forced a drop out and made the most of the opportunity when the ball went right and Briscoe dived in spectacularly.
It was the tackle on Evalds, bringing about the drop-out, that incensed Salford boss Watson, who felt the full-back had been tackled in the air, and prompted a furious reaction from the home crowd.
Oledzki then hit a short ball to crash over as Leeds struck again and after Salford coughed up possession in a promising position, the visitors broke 80 metres with Walker finishing off in the corner.
Salford head coach Ian Watson:
"There are things that happened in that second half that are way beyond our control.
"Ten times out of 10 if that tackle on Evalds was on television, that's a penalty. I'd like [head of referees Steve] Ganson to explain that to me and contact us - he needs to come back to me.
"In this game, things are getting tighter and tighter - we're talking about people's livelihoods. People who are in charge of the games have got to be doing it the right way and I felt the game was ruined.
"As soon as the crowd went berserk at the referee, he just washed his hands of Salford and refereed the game in a totally different manner.
"That's what I'm not happy about. People ask for your opinion - you should be able to give your opinion. Ganson needs to get in touch with me and tell me why he's putting people in charge of a game who can't control the game."
Leeds head coach Richard Agar:
"It was a game of two halves for us. We were really scrappy and poor in the first half but the try just before half-time was a big moment for us.
"Sometimes you just have to adapt your style of football to conditions and we got it better in the second half. The introduction of Richie Myler and (Adam) Cuthbertson really helped us.
"We had a lot more energy in our tanks in that second half and our execution was a bit more clinical. It wasn't real pretty but sometimes you've got to roll your sleeves up and scrap for a win.
"There was not too much we could take out of that first half - we didn't execute in any area of the game. But after that our half-backs managed the game pretty well."
Salford: Evalds, Sio, Welham, Inu, Williams, Lolohea, Atkin, Yates, Jones, Dudson, Roberts, Pauli, McCarthy.
Interchanges: Lannon, Flanagan, Ikahihifo, Lussick.
Leeds: Walker, L. Briscoe, Newman, Hurrell, Handley, Lui, Gale, Seumanufagai, Dwyer, Prior, Mellor, Donaldson, Smith.
Interchanges: Oledzki, A. Sutcliffe, Myler, Cuthbertson.
Referee: Marcus Griffiths (RFL)