Friday 15th February 2013, 20:00 - Round:3
Salford City Reds
|Stevie Ward, Joel Moon 2, Kallum Watkins, Paul McShane 2, Kevin Sinfield,||T||Ashley Gibson 2, Niall Evalds,|
Kevin Sinfield 7,
Attendance: 12,558 Official: R Hicks Venue: Headingley Carnegie Stadium
Joel Moon haunted former employers Salford City Reds as Leeds Rhinos came through their final Super League game before the World Club Challenge without too much of a fuss.
Australian centre Moon was snapped up by Leeds following an impressive season with the Reds last year - he scored 11 tries in 19 games - and touched down twice as part of a classy display.
He was not always joined in excellence by his team-mates as Salford occasionally made life difficult for Brian McDermott's reigning champions, but the Rhinos had enough about them to pull clear when they needed to.
McDermott will have to rake over his squad and check for injuries before Friday's meeting with Melbourne.
Full-back Zak Hardaker - concussed in last week's defeat at Castleford Tigers - went off at half-time with suggestions circulating he was being given a cautionary breather, and he will head McDermott's checklist, along with Ryan Bailey, Brett Delaney and Jamie Peacock, who sat tonight out entirely.
With three of their leading lights missing, Leeds chose to allow Kylie Leuluai, Richard Moore and Stevie Ward to audition for a World Club Challenge shirt, and the latter submitted a third-minute try as part of his case.
Having only beaten Leeds once in 31 Super League games and without a win in nine matches altogether, Salford were always going to be up against it and they did not need Ashley Gibson making an early error.
That did not stop the former Rhino shelling a pass from a scrum, though, and, as the ball went to ground, Ward won a foot-race to score.
With just 180 seconds gone a procession could have been expected but, to Salford's credit, they responded well, hogging the ball for six straight sets, although their failure to turn one of them into points was telling of a side who came into this game with an 82-6 aggregate score against them for the season.
Having survived that spell, Leeds duly scored their second try, Moon getting his first when he was quicker than team-mates Carl Ablett and Kevin Sinfield to get to Danny McGuire's kick.
Leeds could hardly be described as free-flowing but they were doing what they needed to and picked up a third score with 26 minutes gone as Kallum Watkins finished off a neat right-side move that was started by Ian Kirke's barging run.
Moon then appeared to have forgotten he had left Salford as he twice knocked on when looking to ground the ball over the line, before the visitors unexpectedly got on the scoreboard with seconds of the first half left.
Ryan McGoldrick's pass set Jodie Broughton free and, although he was stopped, Leeds were short on defensive numbers and Marc Sneyd kicked into open space for Gibson to make amends for his earlier error.
Sneyd kicked the goal and was lining another up three minutes after the restart when Niall Evalds, Salford's scorer in France last week, snapped up an intercept off McGuire and went the length of the field.
The conversion was missed, leaving the score at 18-10, and there were suggestions Salford had a chance. But Leeds quickly flexed their muscles to show who was in charge, with their two-in-four-minutes spell kickstarted by the introduction of hooker Paul McShane.
He had a hand in the move which gave Moon his second 49 minutes in - McGuire played the final pass - and then dug his way over the line himself.
McShane sits behind Rob Burrow in the pecking order for the hooking role, but he was presenting a strong case for being in starting contention here, adding a second try - a carbon copy of his first - with 10 minutes left.
Salford thought they had grabbed the last word when Gibson poached a second, but Sinfield had that honour, scoring a try after Adam Neal's loose pass, before kicking his seventh goal, extending his 100 per cent record for the year to 15.
TA: Try assists
MT: Marker tackles
MI: Missed tackles
TB: Tackle busts
AT: Attacking kicks
AG: Av gain
CB: Clean break
DR: Run from dummy half
FT: Forty twenty
MG: Missed goals
Clean Breaks: 3