Not many people would have expected Salford to go into the game above Leeds but, as the Rhinos struggle at the start of the season, the Red Devils will back themselves to pile on more misery on the men from Headingley.
After humbling defeats to Hull FC and Huddersfield, a comeback against Hull KR last week will have encouraged Paul Rowley in defeat last week as they prepare for the Rhinos tomorrow.
As for Leeds, many believed their win over Wakefield would kick start their season after three defeats from three but they were blown away by Hull FC last week. A response is expected but will they deliver?
Salford have Greg Burke back after he missed last week through a head knock but have lost James Greenwood meaning Ryan Lannon will likely have to start in the second row. Former Rhino Kallum Watkins is back in training but not ready to start joining Dan Sarginson and co on the side lines.
Leeds have lost key forward Matt Prior to a ban but do have James Bentley, Kruise Leeming and Cameron Smith all back from suspension.
Match Preview – Key Battles:
Ryan Brierley vs Jack Walker: These two have the potential to be so entertaining and subsequently can take the game by the scruff of the neck. We saw Jack Walker back at his best against Wakefield, so he’ll be hoping to replicate that form here. As for Brierley, he’s always a threat and Leeds need to be on high alert to stop him.
Ken Sio vs Ash Handley: The last two winners of the top try scorer award do battle down Salford’s right and Leeds’ left. Handley has already shown that he can still score despite Leeds’ struggles and Leeds will hope to give him more chances to do just that. As for Sio, the winger keeps scoring despite Salford’s results and Handley will have to be on top form to keep him quiet.
Shane Wright vs James Bentley: Two winter signings both wearing 11 will both be hoping to dominate the middle of the field. Shane Wright earnt good reviews in the first two games as Salford won twice in a row. So he definitely has the capability to cause Leeds issues. As for Bentley, he’s back after four games out through suspension so will have something to prove.
Where the game will be won and lost:
At the start of the season, Leeds’ issues lay in the shape of not turning the possession generated by their pack into points. But against Hull FC, they couldn’t even take control of the middle third. They need to get back to doing that before using width on the back of that to start scoring points. If Salford can stop them doing that, as Hull did, and in turn play with width of their own, they could challenge Leeds especially if they start fast.
Score Prediction: Salford Red Devils 24-12 Leeds Rhinos