While the Leigh Centurions’ loss to the Salford Red Devils would not signal relegation of the home side, it would make their chances of survival increasingly difficult and the likelihood even more remote than it was before the kick-off.
Salford themselves don’t have the best of seasons by their recent standards, but a win would at least close to securing their position in the 2022 Super League as they moved above the Huddersfield Giants and to ninth place in the ranking.
Most neutrals were hoping for a Leigh victory to at least give them and their supporters some hope, but you can be sure the Huddersfield and Wakefield supporters were hoping Salford would send them to their seventeenth. loss of the season.
With less than two minutes on the clock, Rhys Williams took a long looping pass from Tui Lolohea to pass around the corner for an all-too-easy try through a tired Leigh defense. Krisnan Inu couldn’t add the conversion from the sideline, but it was a good start for the visitors.
Leigh was twice delayed over the line as they started to find their marks after a terrible start and in twenty Joe Mellor recovered his own chip shot after throwing it to score. Craig Mullen added the conversion to give the Centurions the advantage.
Salford was at six and seven when Keenan Brand added Leigh’s second try of twenty-three, but Mullen hit the amount with his conversion attempt, with the Red Devils trailing six points.
A half-hour Leigh penalty saw Mullen score a second goal of the afternoon for 12-4, but just after the restart Harvey Livett exposed Leigh’s weak defense for a second time for a single try on balls. Inu was again unable to add conversion with low stick effort. Salford still four behind.
Leigh’s lead had narrowed to six points after Salford was ruled offside by referee Griffiths, Mullen kicking both for a 14-8 lead. But Salford was handed a two-point penalty after a late tackle on the last siren, with Inu scoring the two points.
After getting a restart near the Leigh line, Ken Sio went around the corner as Leigh’s defense failed to slide for cover. Inu brilliantly converted from the sideline to regain the lead.
Liam Hood was caught just before the line but the number of tackles was erased and when Salford conceded a penalty a few tackles later Mullen scored the goal to tie the score in the fifty-three minutes.
Both teams knew how close the game was and when Leigh was given a penalty opportunity from forty yards Mullen accepted the opportunity and inserted the ball between the uprights to take the lead by 18-16. with twenty-two to play.
Yet another penalty conceded by the Red Devils, this one ten from the sideline, gave Mullen his sixth goal of the afternoon for a four-point lead, with Leigh’s players and fans starting to think it could be the first win of the season.
A fifty-yard break from Kevin Brown put Salford in a great position and two games later Ryan Lannon appeared to have passed but he was penalized for losing the ball while scoring.
Liam Hood wowed the home crowd when he found his way to score alongside the studs to take the lead to eight points. Mullen added a conversion, his seventh goal on target, for a ten-point lead.
With a few minutes to go, Leigh was back in the game thanks to Adam Sidlow as he went through the uprights and with Mullen adding the extras again, the home side had a 32-16 lead.
Ken Sio scored on the final siren but it didn’t count for anything. Inu added the goal to signal a 22-32 loss.
Leigh eventually did and claimed her first win of the season. They’re unlikely to save them in the long run, but there was plenty to savor as they brushed aside the challenge of a Salford Red Devils side who at times seemed to think they had only ‘to stand for victory. All credit goes to a great performance from Leigh and a special mention to Mullen who scored eight goals to collect half of Leigh’s points for himself.
Leigh Centurion: Brand (T), Mullen (8G), Thornley, Stone, Elliot, Bell, Mellor (T), Ashworth, Faves, Sidlow (T), Hellewell, Foster, Gerrard. Subscribers: Hood (T), Ioane, Gee, Butler.
Salford Red Devils: Lolohea, Sio (2T), Inu (3G), Sarginson, Williams (T), Hingano, Brown, Johnson, Ackers, Ormondroyd, Livett (T), Greenwood, Addy. Subscribers: Norman, Taylor, Lannon, Burke.
Half time: 14-10.
Full time: 32-22.
Arbitrator: Marcus Griffiths.
Score progression: 0-4, 4-4, 6-4, 10-4, 12-4, 12-8, 14-8, 14-10: HT : 14-14, 14-16, 16-16, 18-16, 20-16, 24-16, 26-16, 30-16, 32-16, 32-20, 32-22: FT.