Last night Salford Red Devils produced a superb performance to defeat Leeds Rhinos 26-12.
The Red Devils had battled hard for an hour before a superb last quarter turned a 12-8 deficit into a 26-12 triumph with Joe Burgess coming up with the game breaking try.
It’s easy to zone in on the last 20 minutes, but Salford nailed the basics and tired out the Rhinos with some smart play for the entire game allowing them to hit Leeds with a whirlwind at the end of the game.
One of the Red Devils’ key performers throughout the showing was former Leeds man King Vuniyayawa. The Fijian spent one season at Headingley and always looked full of energy in the Rhinos’ front row but reportedly wasn’t given the game time he felt he deserved. This, amongst other things, was the reason he was unable to negotiate a new deal with Leeds instead joining Salford ahead of 2022.
Against his old teammates last night, Vuniyayawa laid down a real marker. The prop ran for 214 metres despite coming off the bench, a total more than Mikolaj Oledzki, Zane Tetevano, Bodene Thompson and James Donaldson. He even made more metres than Oledzki and Tetevano combined.
Some of those metres of course came as he assisted the final try of the game breaking through a tired Leeds defence before assisting Ryan Brierley for the four points which wrapped up the game.
TRY! Ryan Brierley rounds off a STUNNING second-half performance from the Salford Red Devils!
📝 Salford Red Devils 26-12 Leeds Rhinos pic.twitter.com/nG3tyEOboC
— Sky Sports Rugby League (@SkySportsRL) March 18, 2022
Perhaps Leeds will now regret letting him leave, after all Richard Agar would later note the difficulties he’s facing with a lack of middles available even explaining this as the reason for substituting Blake Austin. Agar traditionally names three middles on the bench but was only able to name two yesterday with Alex Mellor and Brad Dwyer also included with the likes of Matt Prior and Tom Holroyd unavailable.
Had Vuniyayawa stayed at Leeds, he could have been a vital asset for Leeds last night. Instead he was making the Rhinos pay despite having to go off for a HIA during the game.