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Round 6: Leeds edge out
Leeds wore down Salford?s spirited resistance to edge a hard-fought encounter but Karl Harrison?s men left Headingley with their pride intact and their reputation enhanced despite going down 20-12.
They pushed the Rhinos every inch of the way and could have drawn level at 14-14 seven minutes from time had David Hodgson converted Simon Finnigan?s try.
Salford had won four of their opening five games this term but a trip to Headingley was always going to provide a severe test of their credentials.
Former Rhinos favourite Andrew Dunemann, making his first return to Headingley having been tempted out of retirement following his release by Leeds at the end of last season, emerged as a key figure for the visitors.
The Australian?s astute kicking proved a telling factor as Salford showed enough steel in defence and potency in attack to suggest their superb start to the season was no fluke.
Both sides were keen to keep the ball alive at every opportunity during a high-tempo start, while the visitors enjoyed a spell of sustained pressure which culminated in them claiming the opening try after 20 minutes.
Poor handling from Keith Senior put paid to a promising Leeds attack in the left-hand corner, and Hodgson collected possession just short of his own line and embarked on a lung-bursting run.
The Salford wing outstripped a clutch of Leeds players and though Lee Smith stayed in hot pursuit, Hodgson was simply too quick and raced over the line to cap a exhilarating solo effort.
Hodgson failed to land the conversion but Salford remained potent on the counter-attack and threatened to snatch an all-important second try.
Leeds attacked with aggression and purpose as the interval approached and as the visitors? line led a charmed existence, they were finally undone on the stroke of half-time.
McGuire made a trademark break from midfield before finding Scott Donald in support to his right, and the former Manly wing finished clinically in the corner for his third try of the season.
Sinfield added the extras to edge his side 6-4 ahead at the break but Salford came fighting after the break and took just nine minutes to regain the lead when Junior Langi claimed a scrambled effort in the left-hand corner.
Hodgson missed the conversion and Leeds again responded impressively and wiped out Salford?s lead within eight minutes.
Chev Walker took Rob Burrow?s neat offload and charged through a gap in the visitors? defence to cross the line and edge his side 10-8 ahead.
Sinfield missed the conversion but made amends after 68 minutes by sending McGuire over for a try which allowed Leeds to breath a little easier.
Sinfield again missed the conversion and it proved costly as Finnigan touched down in the left-hand corner soon after to reduce the deficit to just two points.
Hodgson failed to convert and Leeds sealed the points when McGuire claimed his second before Sinfield added his second conversion to leave Salford deflated.
Leeds: Mathers, Donald, Walker, Senior, Smith, McGuire, Burrow, Bailey, Diskin, Feather, Ellis, Poching, Sinfield. Replacements: Millard, Lauitiiti, Kirke, Scruton.
Salford: Fitzpatrick, Hodgson, Littler, Moule, Langi, Dunemann, Robinson, Baldwin, Alker, Highton, Brocklehurst, Coley, Finnigan.
Replacements: Sibbit, Haggerty, Stewart, Clough.
Leeds (6) 20. Tries: Donald, Walker, McGuire 2. Goals: Sinfield 2.
Salford (4) 12. Tries: Hodgson, Langi, Finnigan.
Referee: R Laughton (Barnsley)