Leeds Rhinos 12 Salford Red Devils 22: Sin-binning proves costly for Rhinos at Headingley
It was another poor performance from Rhinos who made their usual slow start, got back into the game just before the break, but failed to build on that.
The pattern was set when Rhinos turned the ball over four times inside their own half in the opening 17 minutes and from the last of those, Blake Austin was sin-binned for obstructing Brodie Croft as the Salford stand-off chased his own kick.
Crucially, Salford scored two tries against 12 men and that was the key spell in the game. They exploited the extra man immediately as Deon Cross sent Rhys Williams over; then - from another penalty after a dangerous tackle by James McDonnell on Tyler Dupree - Sam Stone stretched over.
Two Marc Sneyd conversions made it 12-0, but Rhinos halved the deficit in the final minute of the half; Austin, McDonnell and Harry Newman handling before a big charge by Sam Walters. He kept the ball alive and James Bentley’s offload was finished by Richie Myler, with Rhyse Martin converting.
Rhinos had chances before that, but their execution was woeful. Myler knocked-on from Jack Sinfield’s kick; Bentley dropped the ball trying to touch down; Williams made a try-saving tackle on Martin and Newman hurled a pass into touch near the line.
Austin - who had already kicked dead from inside his own half - booted a drop out into touch to give Sneyd a gift two points 11 minutes after the break.
Five minutes later Ellis Longstaff touched down from a kick by Croft and Sneyd’s fourth goal put the game out of Leeds’ reach.
The scrum-half added a penalty goal after Rhinos were marched 10 metres following dissent by Cameron Smith. That’s unacceptable, despite some confusing decisions from referee Jack Smith and a 6-0 second half penalty count against Leeds (10-3 overall).
Bentley pulled a try back moments later, with 14 minutes left, converted by Martin, but Leeds never looked like pulling the game from the fire..
Leeds Rhinos: Myler, Macdonald, Newman, Martin, Handley, Austin, Sinfield, Oledzki, O’Connor, Lisone, McDonnell, Bentley, Smith. Subs Johnson, Walters, Holroyd, Gannon.
Salford Red Devils: Brierley, Williams, Cross, Longstaff, Burgess, Croft, Sneyd, Dupree, Ackers, Vuniyayawa, Stone, Watkins, Partington. Subs Atkin, Wright, Dixon, Ormnondroyd.
Referee: Jack Smith (Wigan).