After being thumped by Bradford Bulls in round three, Salford Red Devils bounced back by putting 50 points past Halifax at The Shay. Sheffield Eagles were defeated by Leigh last Sunday, two weeks after winning their first match in the Qualifiers at home to Halifax.
Last Time Out
Salford travelled to The Shay for their round four match with Halifax. Ian Watson’s side had an early lead after Niall Evalds struck twice in the first 12 minutes. Dane Manning replied for the hosts but the Red Devils went into half-time with a rather comfortable lead after a try apiece from Greg Johnson and Ben Jones-Bishop. Halifax needed to score first after the restart, and that’s exactly what they did through Scott Murrell. Evalds completed his hat-trick soon after though, which could have potentially killed any hope of a Halifax fightback. But that didn’t prove to be the case as James Saltonstall and Jacob Fairbank touched down to bring the hosts within a score of Salford. Fortunately for the Red Devils, Jones-Bishop and Johnson both scored two tries each in the second period to take the game away from Richard Marshall’s Championship side. Adam Tangata notched a consolation try with a few minutes remaining, but Salford had done more than enough to seal an important victory in West Yorkshire.
Sheffield Eagles had a tough mission on their hands when they travelled to Leigh Centurions. The current Championship champions, coached by Paul Rowley, were a wounded animal and this game was a must-win for their hopes of a place in Super League next season. Mark Aston’s Eagles suffered a 52-16 loss at the Leigh Sports Village, and their wait for a second win in the Qualifiers continues. Micky Higham scored the first try for Leigh after 11 minutes but, while Centurions half-back Martyn Ridyard was off the field after being sin-binned for holding down, James Davey levelled matters after a shrewd offload by Eddie Battye. One try from Andrew Dixon, and two from Ryan Brierley, gave Leigh a strong advantage before the break. Scott Turner crossed the whitewash for Sheffield a minute before the half-time hooter sounded to give his side a bit of hope for the second half, despite facing a 14 point deficit. Liam Kay and Fuifui Moimoi both added to the Centurions’ try tally in the second half, before Sam Smeaton clawed six points back with an interception score. Brierley completed his hat-trick on 63 minutes, then Tony Tonks was sin-binned for a high tackle on Jonathan Pownall a few plays later. Tommy Goulden and Gregg McNally rounded off the hosts’ scoring for the afternoon during the final ten minutes, resulting in their side surpassing the 50 point mark.
Two electric full-backs, Niall Evalds and Quentin Laulu-Togagae, go head-to-head on Sunday at the AJ Bell Stadium. One of the hottest properties in the Championship since his arrival from Souths Logan Magpies, Laulu-Togagae, also known as QLT, is a fan favourite in South Yorkshire and he can win a match in the blink of an eye. Evalds has been in the Salford academy from the age of 15, and he’s now a regular in the Red Devils team after the departure of Kevin Locke. A potential England international in the future, Evalds belongs in Super League and he’ll definitely be trying his damnedest to keep Salford there.
It’s been tough going for the Eagles in the Qualifiers so far but if a team do underestimate them, they’ll soon be paying the price for it. Salford know the dangers second tier sides present. Round three was when the Red Devils were pummelled by Bradford. They seemed to have learned their lesson with a clinical performance last weekend but taking their foot off the gas wouldn’t be advised as the Qualifiers enter the final rounds – Salford by 22
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