Leeds 46 Salford 12: Rhinos climb table after cruising to victory
21:34 GMT, 31 August 2012
Defending Super League champions Leeds bounced back from their Wembley heartbreak in style by cruising to an eight-try rout of lowly Salford to climb to fourth place in the table.
Coach Brian McDermott gave the bulk of the beaten Challenge Cup finalists the chance to atone for their heavy loss to Warrington and they duly delivered as the Rhinos eased effortlessly to an eighth successive win over the Reds, their third this season.
McDermott drafted in back-row forwards Chris Clarkson and Weller Hauraki in place of props Ryan Bailey and Darrell Griffin and gave a full debut to Jimmy Keinhorst at centre but it was old stager Jamie Peacock who laid the platform for their victory stroll.
Over he goes: Kallum Watkins scores the seventh try for Leeds
The former England skipper took up from where he left off at Wembley with a prodigious stint in the first 30 minutes, running with all his old power and producing devastating offloads to create two of his side's three first-half tries.
Salford actually came up with the first scoring opportunity, with winger Jodie Broughton breaking clear down the flank only to see his final pass intercepted by his opposite number Ben Jones-Bishop, who rubbed salt in the wound by opening the scoring at the other end.
He took a low pass from Watkins to slide over at the corner while co-winger Ryan Hall finished off a trademark scoot from dynamic scrum-half Rob Burrow shortly afterwards to register his 25th Super League try of the season.
Leeds' only other try of the first half was scored by Sinfield, following Peacock's clever offload to Carl Ablett, but they quickly wrapped up the match with three further scores within eight minutes of the restart.
Poor Salford hardly knew what had hit them as Burrow jinked his way over for a solo try before paving the way for full-back Zak Hardaker to go over.
Centre Kallum Watkins took a short pass from 18-year-old Stevie Ward to grab his first try and then took advantage of some dazzling footwork from Hardaker to double his tally.
Second-rower Jamie Jones-Buchanan gained some reward for his industry when he stretched out of full-back Luke Patten's tackle to score Leeds' eighth try and Sinfield, who missed with his first kick at goal, added his seventh in a row to make it 46-0.
Poor Patten, who has one match left before he retires, was run ragged all night but he gained some consolation for himself and his badly-beaten team when he scored two late tries and Daniel Holdsworth added both goals.
The Reds will bring down the curtain on their season against Wakefield next weekend but for Leeds the season will go on and, on this form, another Grand Final appearance cannot be ruled out.