Ian Watson’s Salford travel to Headingley on Monday as they take on Leeds in each sides’ second game of the Easter weekend.
Both Leeds and the Red Devils played on Friday, with Leeds’ game at Huddersfield a 3pm kick off while Salford’s home tie with Catalans was the earliest game on Easter Friday, starting at 12pm.
Leeds are now two games without a win following their disappointing 22-22 draw with Huddersfield. The Rhinos failed to take advantage of a much-weakened Giants outfit, and it took a late Ash Handley try to rescue the point they took away from the John Smith’s stadium.
That draw came the week after the loss to Castleford at Elland Road, two results which have left the Champions 5 points behind Saints who are in first place on the table, so a win is crucial if they are to avoid falling too far behind the league leaders.
After a slow start to the season in which they lost 4 of their 5 opening games, Salford look to be on an upward curve having won 2 of their last 3. They beat Catalans by 32 points to 16 at the AJ Bell on Friday, a win which took them up to 9th.
However, the Devils have lost all four of their away fixtures in 2018 and haven’t won a game on the road since last May. The Rhinos are unbeaten on home turf since June of last year, so Salford will likely require a seasons-best performance if they are to come away with the points.
Leeds won all three meetings with the Red Devils in 2017, two of them by comfortable margins.
The first game between the sides was the closest; Salford looked in a good position to secure at least a point but Liam Sutcliffe scored a controversial late try to steal a 20-14 win.
The game at the AJ Bell saw Leeds romp to a 50-24 win and jump above Salford, who went on an 8-game losing run afterwards, into 2nd place. The Super 8’s meeting was even more emphatic, with Leeds putting 44 points past their opponents and only conceding 2 as they eased to victory.
Salford’s last win against Monday’s opponents came in 2016, a hard fought 14-10 home win. That was their only win in the last 10 meeting with Leeds, losing the other 9.
Liam Sutcliffe, Stevie Ward and Jimmy Keinhorst return to the squad for this game after injury. Ward has been out due to a torn calf suffered in the World Club Challenge on the 16th February, while Sutcliffe (foot) and Keinhorst (knee) were both hurt at Widnes the week after Leeds’ Australian adventure.
Brad Dwyer, who played his first game in a month against Huddersfield on Friday, misses out as does Ireland international Anthony Mullally after he took a head knock in the game with the Giants. 36-year old Jamie Jones-Buchanan is also left out.
Hooker Matt Parcell is expected to be fit after not making the 17 that played on Friday.
Salford make just one change to their squad from Friday as forward George Griffin replaces winger Jake Bibby, who scored in his side’s win over the Dragons.
Vice-captain Tyrone McCarthy and ex-New Zealand international winger Manu Vatuvei remain unavailable. Half-back Jake Shorrocks, who recently joined on a 1-month loan from Wigan, isn’t included.
The 19-man squads in full are-
Leeds Rhinos: Ashton Golding, Tom Briscoe, Kallum Watkins, Liam Sutcliffe, Ryan Hall, Joel Moon, Richie Myler, Matt Parcell, Brad Singleton, Carl Ablett, Stevie Ward, Brett Delaney, Jimmy Keinhorst, Brett Ferres, Ash Handley, Jack Walker, Cameron Smith, Mikolaj Oledzki, Josh Walters.
Salford Red Devils: Greg Johnson, Kris Welham, Junior Sa’u, Niall Evalds, Robert Lui, Jack Littlejohn, Craig Kopczak, Logan Tomkins, George Griffin, Josh Jones, Weller Hauraki, Mark Flanagan, Lana Tasi, Ryan Lannon, Luke Burgess, Ben Nakubuwai, Josh Wood, Derrell Olpherts, Lee Mossop.
Date: Monday 2nd April 2018.
Venue: Emerald Headingley Stadium, Leeds.
Referee: Greg Dolan.