Leeds Rhinos 46 Salford 12: Leeds pile on more misery for Super League strugglers

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Super League: Carl Ablett scored a late brace as Leeds eased the pain of successive Super League defeats with a thumping win over lowly Salford.

The visitors, who have now lost four of their opening five games, led through Stefan Ratchford’s early try but the Rhinos gradually moved through the gears at a bitterly cold Headingley.

Keith Senior, Jamie Jones-Buchanan and Weller Hauraki all breached the visitors’ line before half-time and Kallum Watkins, Brent Webb, Ablett (two) and Ali Lauitiiti applied further scores.

Captain Kevin Sinfield weighed in with 14 points with the boot as Brian McDermott’s men – beaten by Harlequins and Warrington in their previous two outings and crippled by injuries – made a return to winning ways.

Salford made a vibrant opening and some deft handling pinned Leeds back towards their own line before Daniel Holdsworth’s teasing grubber kick was grounded by Ratchford.

Holdsworth converted the fifth-minute score with ease and a 6-0 advantage gave Salford a platform on which to build but the Rhinos gradually warmed to their task and claimed their first try of the evening in the 18th minute.

A period of sustained pressure led to Rob Burrow and Sinfield combining skilfully to send Senior over from close range in the 18th minute.

Sinfield added the extras and the momentum swung firmly in Leeds’s favour as, in the 28th minute, Hauraki’s pass found Webb who ushered Jones-Buchanan over the line.

Three minutes later Leeds had their third try when Sinfield’s kick bounced fortuitously for Hauraki to touch down from close range.

Sinfield converted both scores and suddenly the hosts were 18-6 up and in total control.

Yet Salford claimed a second try shortly before half-time when Matty Smith’s pass handed Adam Sidlow a simple score which Ratchford converted to make it 18-12 at the break.

Tryscoring opportunities grew scarce after the restart but Sinfield booted a penalty in the 49th minute to stretch the Rhinos’ lead.

Sinfield then demonstrated his range of passing skills on the hour with an exquisite long offload which sent Watkins scampering in at the right corner.

A superb touchline conversion was added by Sinfield, whose pass then sent Webb over in the 64th minute. Sinfield failed to convert but Ablett went over twice in quick succession and Sinfield converted the second of those tries.

He then added the extras after Lauitiiti went over late on for their eighth try of the night.

Leeds Rhinos: Webb, Jones-Bishop, Watkins, Senior, Hall, Sinfield, Burrow, Jones-Buchanan, Buderus, Kirke, Hauraki, Lauitiiti, Ablett. Substitutes: Clarkson, McShane, Pitts, Singleton.

Salford Reds: Patten, Broughton, Nero, Gibson, Henry, Ratchford, Holdsworth, Cashmere, Godwin, Boyle, Neal, L. Adamson, Wild. Substitutes: Smith, Spencer, Paleaaesina, Sidlow.

Referee: T Alibert (Toulouse)