Salford Red Devils held off a second half comeback from Wakefield Trinity to win 28-20 at Headingley Stadium to end their season on a high.
Salford took the lead inside two minutes. They forced an early goal line drop out, and from the field position, Krisnan Inu picked up the ball out wide, and barged his way over. Inu missed the conversion.
As the clock hit 10 minutes, the Red Devils went further ahead as Inu broke free down the left and passed inside to Niall Evalds, who marked his farewell appearance with a try. Inu was on target with the conversion for a 10-point lead.
Salford got their third try 15 minutes later, after a messy play by Wakefield, which resulted in Ben Jones-Bishop spilling a loose pass, Ed Chamberlain kicked the ball forward from the 40m line and was able to outrun the defence to score. Inu converted.
Wakefield responded just past the half-hour, as Reece Lyne broke away down the right hand side, and gave the ball to Ryan Hampshire on his inside, who went over to score the try. Hampshire was then off-target with the conversion.
However, the final word of the first half would go to Salford, as Andy Ackers escaped the clutches of the Wakefield defence and gave the ball to Tui Lolohea behind him. The Tongan was able to finish off the move with a try. Inu added the conversion to give the Red Devils a 16-point lead at the break.
Wakefield hit back 12 minutes into the second half, after Brad Walker kicked towards the in-goal. Kelepi Tanginoa beat Inu to the ball to get the try. Hampshire was on target with the conversion to bring Trinity into double figures.
The comeback really did look on when Wakefield grabbed another try just past the hour. Innes Senior was out through down the left-hand side and passed inside to Hampshire, who grabbed his second try. However, Hampshire was unable to add the conversion, meaning they trailed by eight points with just under 20 minutes to go.
Five minutes later, there was another twist as Salford forward Lee Mossop was sent to the sin bin for a trip on Kyle Wood, meaning the Red Devils would be down to 12 men until the final two minutes.
From the next play, Wakefield punished Salford, as Walker and Tanginoa combined again. Walker played a delayed pass to Tanginoa, who got over for his second of the night. Hampshire converted to leave just two points in the contest.
Salford ended any hope of a comeback with 10 minutes to go, as Senior fumbled a Lolohea kick, allowing Tyrone McCarthy to take advantage and score the try. Inu converted to take Salford more than a converted try ahead.
For both sides, it is their final game of a season no one will forget in a hurry. For Wakefield, it was dramatic. With injuries, COVID and reports of a player revolt to deal with. They ended the season with three wins from their final five matches.
As for Salford, it was another big season for them, as they reached Wembley and the Challenge Cup Final for the first time since 1969. They were unlucky to be beaten against Leeds Rhinos. They have ended the season with three wins in four games (not counting the game they had to forfeit against Warrington).