RUGBY League fanatic Kaine Greenwood (@RetroPress) takes a look at the Saturday Super League match between Salford and Leeds.
Salford Red Devils v Leeds Rhinos | Saturday 18:30
There’s the odd thing in life that takes a little longer than usual. A Northern Rail train. Chatting to your semi-deaf gran. My ability to put socks on the right feet. David Cameron’s recognition of an offshore bank account.
None of those, although close, stretch quite as far as the last time Salford secured a home ‘W’ against Leeds Rhinos in 1993. That’s right, Salford have never secured a victory on their own ground against Leeds in Super League history.
You’d think there’s not going to be a better time to break that spell for the Red Devils than this fixture considering the tumultuous period being endured at Headingley – the worst start in decades and fresh on the back of a 30-10 defeat by Hull KR (the third 20-plus points defeat this season)
Salford themselves, however, have lost three of their last four fixtures – giving up 126 points – and their coach openly stated after defeat to Wakefield: “Our goal-line [defence]wasn’t great.. where as the last few weeks it has been really good. It’s something we need to look at.”
I’m not sharing the same longer-term confidence in a defence ranked as the second-worst coming into this weekend and it was shabby to say the least in the last round.
Clearly, ‘good’ is an opinion not shown out by the statistics so far and could cause serious issues if the Rhinos were to find any kind of gear we have been accustomed to, which leaves me wondering how they are only a best-priced 7/5 for this tie.
Perhaps because Brian McDermott won’t be able to call on Ryan Hall, Joel Moon, Josh Walters, Brett Ferres or Tom Briscoe through injury which does have an influence but if we were to favour the Red Devils in any way; taking the 5/4 about Josh Griffin scoring anytime would better placed money.
The centre-cum-winger has found the line eight times in 2016 with the left-edge of Salford’s attack being profitable all campaign – a try-scorer from the left has appeared in every game of the competition.
The outside back is sure to fancy his chances of maintaining this against whichever stand-in the Rhinos position on that side.
Jordan Lilley and Jordan Baldwinson found themselves lining-up for Featherstone’s last-gasp defeat to Halifax in the Championship but are drafted into the 19-man squad as cover. Lilley was impressive in early season and could provide something to get the treble-winners if given a birth in the halves.
Seven of the nine rounds have seen the Rhinos defence ship first and they have lost on each occasion. Salford have conceded first on just three of their 10 outings but have also lost each game when doing so – getting the first score could be of more significance than usual.
The possible return of Robert Lui to the home side’s midfield is the only thing to get me away from seeing a Rhinos win as a good play and his fitness has to be questioned as a late addition to the 19.
The bookmakers seem to have been suitably shocked by Leeds’ start to season and react to missing players here by offering up 8/11 (Ladbrokes) on a win. This can be boosted further if we have faith in them scoring first – as they have in both victories to date – to 7/5 (Paddy Power). Get on, there’s no time for waiting.
Salford Red Devils v Leeds Rhinos – Leeds Rhinos to win (8/11 Ladbrokes)
Salford Red Devils v Leeds Rhinos – Leeds Rhinos to score first and win (7/5 Paddy Power)
Salford Red Devils v Leeds Rhinos – Josh Griffin Anytime Tryscorer (5/4 Paddy Power)
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