Leigh boss Paul Rowley admitted Championship sides were finding promotion to the Super League “an impossible dream” after a 46-18 hammering at Salford.
The Championship leaders followed their home defeat by Hull KR with an eight-try mauling by Salford with man-of-the-match Rangi Chase crossing twice.
Leigh fought back from 22-0 down to 22-12 with tries from Adam Higson and Greg McNally before Salford ran in four converted touchdowns in 11 minutes to gain revenge for their shock cup defeat in April.
Rowley said: “We blew three clear cut chances and were on the end of some harsh and peculiar decisions.
“But we came up against a Salford side who played to a high Super League standard. They were much too good for us and our kicking game was really poor.
“It’s man in the mirror and keep our nerve time now.
“It wasn’t do or die today but we have to keep our swagger and our heads held high and go again.
“The Super League club’s finances have a bit to do with it but it’s proving an impossible dream at the moment for championship clubs.”
Chase scored two scorching solo tries and set up another for Junior Sau with a neat kick.
The Red Devils’ tries came from Ben Jones-Bishop, Scott Taylor and Iain Thornley in the first half with Chase (two), Sau, Niall Evalds and Greg Johnson crossing after the break.
Michael Dobson kicked seven conversions before McNally’s second try for Leigh in the last minute.
Salford acting coach Ian Watson hailed Chase’s performance in the match.
He said: “We allowed Leigh back when we dropped our intensity.
“We had to be ruthless to stay in the driving seat and did that in the second half.
“Rangi was sensational and produced one of his best performances for us in the second half.
“We spoke to him at half time about being more direct and he responded.”
Salford lost skipper Harrison Hansen near the end on his 300th career appearance with a recurrence of an ankle injury.
But Watson warned: “It’s two out of two but there are another five to go and Bradford will be looking for a response after losing to Wakefield.”