Salford look to continue their excellent form as they travel over the Pennines to face the Leeds Rhinos in round 28 of the Betfred Super League.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
After a poor season by their standards, the Leeds Rhinos have just about avoided relegation. With three wins in their last four it has boosted their chances of survival. The only defeat in that run came against the league leaders, St Helens. The Rhinos sit eighth in the table, four points above bottom placed London Broncos
Salford Red Devils
Six victories in a row has put Ian Watson’s side into a very strong position. A win against fellow play-off contenders Warrington Wolves last weekend, near enough confirmed their place in the top five. A win in this would but them in a very strong position to finish either second or third.
Stevie Ward could be set to return to the side for the first time in six months. Ward was named early on in the week in the Great Britain Elite Performance squad.
Brett Ferris is the man to miss out on the 19 man after failing to recover from a knee injury. He was initially named in an unchanged squad.
Leeds Rhinos 19-man squad: Walker, Hurrell, Handley, Myler, Cuthbertson, Merrin, Dwyer, Sutcliffe, Ward, Oledzki, Jones-Buchanan, Smith, Briscoe, Donaldson, Newman, Seumanufagai, Lunt, Lui, Martin
Salford Red Devils
Ian Watson welcomes back George Griffin after injury. Josh Wood also is named in the squad.
Ryan Lannon and Ben Nakumbawai are the pair to miss out.
Salford Red Devils 19-man squad: Evalds, Welham, Bibby, Mossop, Wood, Dudson, Jones, Griffin, Flanagan, Lussick, Walker, Burke, McCarthy, Tomkins, Sio, Inu, Lolohea, Hastings, Johnson.
HEAD TO HEAD
This will be the third meeting of the season with the previous two matches being held at the AJ Bell Stadium. The first meeting of the season was back in February which saw a rampant Rhinos side blow away the Red Devils 46-14. The dominant display put an end to Salford’s 100% record, with the Rhinos crossing for eight tries, three of which were scored by young Full-back Jack Walker.
However, when the sides next met in May the Red Devils avenged their defeat. The 28-16 win included a try for Robert Lui who has since made the move to the Rhinos. In his time with Salford Lui made over 100 appearances for the Greater Manchester club.
Robert Lui (Leeds Rhinos) v Jackson Hastings (Salford Red Devils)
The key battle in this contest could be determined by the former teammates and half-back pairing for the Red Devils. Lui has had a strong season, initially for Salford and more recently for the Rhinos. Six tries and 15 try assists shows how he has such a pivotal role in any side he plays in. At Salford he was overshadowed at times by Hastings, however his attacking kicking game has really helped Leeds in their quest for survival. He has relieved pressure on Richie Myler which has led to him also playing better rugby.
It seems the obvious choice but Hastings without a doubt has been the most influential player and is crucial to his side. He is surely going to be named as the Man Of Steel in October and it is deserved. Eight tries this season and a remarkable 34 try assists puts him way above anybody else. Marc Sneyd is currently in second for assists, however he has 13 less than Hastings. Despite not having as big as an impact last week, Hasting causes problems to sides with both his running and kicking games. A top player supported by confident teammates.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Friday September 6th
Venue: Emerald Headingley Stadium
Kick-off: 7:45 PM
Referee: Liam Moore
WHO WILL WIN?
This could depend on Leeds’ mind set. As they are safe they have nothing to play for, this could be an easy success for Salford. However, I do think it will be close but the form of Salford will swing this fixture in their favour.