RHINOS HOLD OFF SALFORD FIGHTBACK
The Rhinos were made to work hard at the Willows for victory on the opening day but they hung on to secure a 30-26 win.
The Rhinos travelled to the Willows to start their engage Super League season for the 100th league meeting between the sides. Salford have never beaten Leeds in Super League however they came close last season when they only lost by a point in the last meeting between the sides. Kevin Sinfield got the new season underway and it was not long before the Rhinos had opened the scoring. A good drive by Kylie Leuluai took Leeds close to the line before Burrow fed Brent Webb who ducked under a high shot to score. Sinfield pushed the conversion attempt wide but the Rhinos led 4-0 after two minutes. Four minutes later the Rhinos doubled their lead through Danny McGuire. Gareth Ellis was only just tackled short of the line but McGuire then throw a big dummy and went in for the score. Sinfield added the conversion this time to make it 10-0. The home side hit back after nine minutes through winger John Wilshere. There looked to be little on at first but Burrow got his feet stuck and was unable to get the tackle in on Aaron Moule and he drew the last man and passed to Wilshere to score. The conversion was missed but the game was back in the balance at 10-4. Salford came within four points of the Rhinos after 15 minutes when Kevin Sinfield was penalised for a high tackle on McGuinness. The Reds half back was falling as he came through but the penalty was justified however the reaction from the Salford players was over the top and Alker was lucky to go unpunished for his part in a brawl after the high tackle. The game descended into near farce after that with referee Ian Smith penalising Leeds ten times in succession and the Rhinos frustrations clearly showing as the ill feeling between both sides escalated into mini skirmishes involved Bailey and Haggerty and Senior and Halliwell. However, the Rhinos gained their composure and regained their ten point lead when Rob Burrow burst through close to the line to score after 34 minutes. Sinfield added the conversion to make it 16-6. Just three minutes later the visitors increased their first half lead when Matt Diskin ran across the face of the defence before finding Rob Burrow. He passed to Toopi who stepped and charged for the line before producing a great offload to Brent Webb to score his second try of the game. Sinfield added the conversion to make it 22-6 at half time. The home side scored the first try of the second half after two minutes when John Wilshere wrong footed Jordan Tansey, playing as an emergency winger after Ashley Gibson had limped off in the first half, and stretched for the line. Robinson was off target with the conversion. Three minutes later it looked as if the City Reds would cut the deficit even more when Robinson broke down field however a great tackle by McGuire stopped him and then Keith Senior was sin binned for lying on. The Rhinos were falling foul of Ian Smith too regularly and it was killing their ability to get hold of possession. After Toopi had been penalised for a flop Salford moved the ball down field and Aaron Moule scored from dummy half from short range after Alker had gone close. Robinson added the conversion to make it 22-16 after 49 minutes. Leeds finally managed to keep hold of the ball for a period of time and gained their first points of the second half. McGuire produced a great reverse kick which Webb read perfectly and the full back would have completed his hat trick had he not been held back by Mark Edmondson however unlike Senior earlier, the Salford player remained on the pitch. Sinfield however duly kicked the penalty to stretch the Rhinos lead to 24-16 after 59 minutes. Leeds were unlucky not to get a try when Gareth Ellis had the ball hit from his hand as he stretched for the line but the luck went their way after 69 minutes when John Wilshere lost control of the ball after taking a cross field bomb by Danny McGuire and Jordan Tansey was on hand to touch the ball down ahead of Clinton Toopi. Sinfield added the conversion to make it 30-16. With ten minutes to go Salford hit back as the home side refused to throw in the towel. This time it was Gareth Haggerty who got the try after a driving run from close range. Robinson added the conversion to make it 30-22. There was even more drama when Aaron Moule created the extra man out wide on a flowing move across the entire width of the pitch, Robinson could not add the conversion though but the Rhinos lead was cut to just four points at 30-26. There were some tense moments at the end but the Rhinos hung on for an opening day victory. Salford: Hodgson, Halliwell, McGuiness, Moule, Wilshere, Dorn, Robinson, Coley, Alker, Jewitt, Edmondson, Littler, Finnigan. Subs: Korkidas, Haggerty, Adamson, Brocklehurst Leeds: Webb, Donald, Toopi, Senior, Gibson, McGuire, Burrow, Bailey, Diskin, Leuluai, Lauitiiti, Ellis, Sinfield. Subs: Scruton, Jones-Buchanan, Tansey, Thackray. Referee: Ian Smith Attendance: 8,072