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Super League: Leeds ran away in the second half to beat Salford 32-4
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Leeds produced a clinical second-half performance to break Salford's resistance and go top of the First Utility Super League with a 32-4 victory.
A much-changed Salford side took to the field at Headingley Carnegie, but had the better of an error-strewn first half and were unfortunate not to go into the break in control.
The Rhinos scored the first try of the afternoon early on through Kevin Sinfield and, even though their line was broken on a number of occasions, they limited Salford to a Logan Tomkins try.
After toughing it out in the opening 40 minutes, Leeds clicked in attack and scored brilliant long-range tries through Zak Hardaker and Ben Jones-Bishop either side of a Rob Burrow score.
Ryan Hall took his try tally for the season into double figures and Tom Briscoe touched down in the corner late on to add gloss to the result.
Kallum Watkins became the latest Rhinos player to be rested and was replaced by Jones-Bishop, meaning Hardaker slotted in at centre. Jamie Peacock and Ryan Bailey came in for Ian Kirke and Stevie Ward.
Salford were without a host of star names including Tony Puletua, Tim Smith and Adrian Morley so handed a second debut to Michael Platt, with Theo Fages and Steve Rapira among those recalled.
Leeds resisted the temptation to make wholesale changes and they hit the front on six minutes as Sinfield crossed after exchanging passes with a rampaging Mitch Achurch.
A moment of brilliance by Rangi Chase cut the Leeds defence apart soon after, but his offload just inside the Rhinos 40 went to ground and the chance went begging.
Former Salford centre Joel Moon was also guilty of choosing the wrong option as the home side immediately threatened and he was taken into touch by Jake Mullaney.
Briscoe and Hardaker prevented Junior Sa'u from going over in the corner, but Salford were not to be denied 12 minutes from the break as Tomkins touched down from dummy half on the back of a good break by Danny Williams.
Salford appeared to have turned the game on its head when Stuart Howarth pounced on a deflected Chase kick and dummied Jones-Bishop on his way to the line, but he was adjudged to have been held up by strong Leeds defence.
The Red Devils continued to turn the screw as half-time approached, but the hosts held firm to go in 6-4 to the good.
Salford were made to pay for not taking their chances as Leeds scored a length of the field try early in the second period.
Briscoe defused a kick and made good progress before offloading to Jones-Bishop who ran 80 metres and threw a pass to ground, which was collected and finished by Hardaker.
Scrambling defence by Leeds and a penalty for obstruction ensured the Red Devils failed to capitalise on two more sparkling breaks by Chase and they found themselves further behind 20 minutes from time.
Jones-Bishop sent Moon clear down the left side and the Australian made the right call on this occasion to allow Burrow to scamper to the line.
Leeds made the two points safe in the 65th minute and it was another brilliant effort, Hardaker collecting a kick and breaking beyond halfway before returning the favour to the supporting Jones-Bishop.
Hall squeezed in at the corner and Briscoe collected a bouncing kick to race 60 metres for the final try of the afternoon.
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First Utility Super League Table
|5||Hull K R||0||0|
|7||Salford Red Devils||0||0|
|First Utility Super League|
|Thursday 5th February|
|20:00||Widnes vs Wigan|
|Friday 6th February|
|20:00||St Helens vs Catalans Dragons|
|Saturday 7th February|
|15:00||Warrington vs Salford|
|Sunday 8th February|
|15:00||Huddersfield vs Hull|
|15:00||Hull K R vs Leeds|
|15:30||Castleford vs Wakefield|
|Thursday 12th February|
|20:00||Salford vs St Helens|
|Friday 13th February|
|20:00||Hull vs Warrington|
|20:00||Leeds vs Widnes|
|20:00||Wigan vs Huddersfield|
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