A new looking Leeds side travel to Salford as both clubs chase a rare win as the play-off race heats up.
New head coach Rohan Smith will be looking for a good start to life at Leeds, but is up against a side showing promise and desperate for a win. Salford are winless in their last six, but the fact their last win came against Leeds will give them confidence.
Both sides see multiple key players returning after injury struggles in recent weeks. Tim Lafai, Ryan Brierley, Joe Burgess, Marc Sneyd and Elijah Taylor all return to Salford’s squad. Harvey Livett could also make his first appearance of 2022. The visitors see Richie Myler, David Fusitu’a, James Bentley, Zane Tetevano and Tom Holroyd all come back into the squad.
Match Preview – Key Battles:
Ken Sio vs Ash Handley: Salford’s main try scoring threat is no doubt Ken Sio, and with 13 tries in a side that are struggling to score points, they will look to make the most out of his finishing ability. However, he’s up against a quality winger in Ash Handley who will make his afternoon as difficult as possible. Sio will also have to deal with the threat of Handley himself, who is 3rd top metre maker so far this season. You can expect a lot of game to be played down their side of the pitch.
Marc Sneyd vs Blake Austin: Sneyd’s return will completely change the way Salford play. Everything they do in attack will go through Sneyd, and the level of his performance is likely to determine how well Salford play. For Austin, his influence over the team is very different, and he’s struggled to make his mark so far this year. However, with a new coach and plenty of returning players he will have plenty of options in attack, and will need some creativity to break Salford’s line.
Where the game will be won and lost:
This game is a tough one to call, as there is so much that we don’t know about the approach Leeds will take. With so much having changed since the last time we saw them. If Rohan Smith has already developed a good connection with his players, and Hardaker can bed in, then the Rhinos will most likely come out on top. For Salford, they need to make sure their attack and discipline is improved. Despite losing, their last two performances have shown that they can perform against the best, but the challenge will be to do it for a full 80 minutes to get the win. With the better halves available for selection, Salford should look to put the ball through hands and try and use their strong back line to their advantage.
Score Prediction: Salford Red Devils 16-18 Leeds Rhinos