Salford avenge Challenge Cup exit by thrashing Leigh

Gregg McNally scores for Leigh at Salford. Photo: Paul McCarthy Photography
Gregg McNally scores for Leigh at Salford. Photo: Paul McCarthy Photography

Salford Red Devils 46 Leigh Centurions 18

Salford gained revenge for their shock Challenge Cup defeat at Leigh in April to make it two wins out of two in the Super League qualifiers with a 46-18 win on Sunday.

Two-try Rangi Chase was in inspired form for Salford who ran in four converted tries in the last 20 minutes against a tiring defence.

The Red Devils led 16-0 at half time with touchdowns from Ben Jones-Bishop, Scott Taylor and Ian Thornley with Michael Dobson kicking two goals.

A Chase solo try increased the advantage to 22-0 before Leigh rocked Salford with two touchdowns in three minutes through Adam Higson and Greg McNally.

Salford recovered their composure at 22-12 to add further tries through Junior Sau, Chase, Niall Evalds and Greg Johnson with Dobson finishing with seven conversions from eight attempts.

Leigh have now lost both opening matches against Hull KR and Salford before a crunch home clash against Wakefield on Saturday.

Leigh were missing Gareth Hock against his old club with a knee injury and Greg Worthington whilst Salford were without Jordan Walne and Weller Hauraki.

Josh Griffin was also sidelined after suffering concussion in last week’s narrow win over Wakefield.

Leigh were bidding to bounce back after tossing away a big lead to lose 36-26 to Hull KR in their opening Middle Eights clash - a defeat which ended their 32-match unbeaten home run.

Salford made a flying start with Higson penalised for a foul on Thornley after losing possession.

Smart passing along the line by Dobson, Chase and Sau put Jones-Bishop over in the corner after only two minutes for his 13th try of the season.

Leigh almost hit back straight away with a superb offload by Sam Barlow sending Martyn Ridyard clear before McNally was bundled into touch by Thornley.

Salford rallied with a disallowed Jones-Bishop try from a Chase kick before Reni Maitua spilled a Chase pass to waste an opportunity.

Higson lost control over the Salford line after a Jones-Bishop blunder and the Red Devils extended the lead to 10-0 after 27 minutes when Tommy Lee sent Taylor charging over with Dobson converting.

Salford extended their lead with Dobson and Evalds combining for Thornley to stroll through a gap for his first try since signing on loan from Wigan to make it 16-0.

Brierley went close for Leigh after chasing his own kick but the Red Devils went into the interval with a commanding lead.

Then Chase produced a touch of magic to sidestep his way over straight from a scrum early in the second half with Dobson’s conversion taking the lead to 22-0.

Leigh battled away but were denied a try with a forward pass from ex Salford forward Dixon to Tom Armstrong.

Their endeavours were rewarded when Bob Beswick, Ridyard and Brierley sent the ball spinning wide to Higson who scored in the corner with Ridyard booting the touch line conversion.

Leigh added a second try almost immediately with Brierley racing onto a Kurt Haggerty pass to sprint clear and send McNally over to cut the gap to 22-12.

Salford eased their nerves with Sau waiting patiently to dive on a bouncing Chase kick on the hour to make it 28-12.

Haggerty should have given Leigh renewed hope but dropped the ball over the line after intercepting a Chase pass.

Then Chase made amends by leaving four defenders stranded on a bewildering run to notch his second try after 63 minutes and put the game beyond reach for the Centurions at 34-12.

Evalds waltzed over for the Red Devils seventh try to ensure Salford’s biggest win of the season before Johnson went over in the corner.

Leigh’s frustration continued when Kay dropped an Armstrong pass with the line open.

But McNally did manage to score his second try from a break by Ridyard who added the conversion.