As regular readers of this site will know, I have a soft spot for Salford...but this stops way short of wishing them luck against the Rhinos. I work in Salford, have good mates from Salford, and saw my first ever rugby league match in Salford (as a student). I'm therefore delighted that they are having a good season, and that their relegation worries seem to be a thing of the past.
For tonights match, Tony Smith makes one forced change from last week with Scruton in for the injured Danny Ward. Francis Cummins is eighteenth man, but likely to be water carrier after Calderwood was one of the few players to impress last week. The loss of Sinfield will still be a factor, but hopefully not as crucial as it was last week.
Salford come into the game tonight on the back of successive victories
against Huddersfield and Widnes, although both of these games were at the
Willows. Luke Robinson was star man last week with two tries and fellow
ex-Gooner David Hodgson also got over the whitewash. It has lifted the pressure
off Karl Harrison's men as they now look to snatching the last place in the
play-offs rather than the relegations battle.
The Salford 18-man squad for tonight is Beverley, Hodgson, Littler, Smith,
Robinson, Shipway, Alker, Rutgerson, Fitzpatrick, Baldwin, Coley, Sibbit,
Charles, Haggerty, Jonkers, Hartley, Highton, McAvoy.
Three Reds to watch;
Leeds have only ever lost six times at Headingley to Salford, with two games having been drawn. The record win for Leeds in 60-6 (1987-88) and I doubt this will be in much danger tonight as the Reds continue to improve. In 1976-77 Salfords biggest Headingley win was 28-13, and if the Rhinos take their eye off the ball like they did last week, Salford must fancy their chances.
The weather, looks as though it should be good for open rugby. This morning rain should clear by lunchtime and a cloudy afternoon and evening should mean that the temperature doesn't rise too high. Shirt sleeve weather, but not to hot for the lads to put on a decent show.
The bookies have been a bit disrespectful and given the Reds a massive 28 point start. I fancy them to get well inside that, and if I were a betting man my money would be on Salford with that handicap.
Holidays will no doubt mean that some season ticket holders have chosen this as a game to miss, so I'd expect a crowd around 15k. Any more than that will be a bonus. Few will make the friday night journey from sunny Salford, but those that do are usually pretty vociferous. It should be a good atmosphere and a good game.