SALFORD SPIRIT SINKS ROVERS
Hull KR 18 Salford 38 Match Report – David Clegg
A fine second half performance proved more than sufficient to overturn an eight point half time deficit, and bring the Red Devils their third victory in a row. Winning hat tricks are not unknown to Salford fans, but this one has incorporated two away wins, both in Yorkshire, including one at the home of last season’s league leaders, Huddersfield.
There had been little wrong with the first half, either on attack or defence; rather that one or two individual errors had proven costly. These had involved forcing passes at times when it would have been wiser to take the tackle, the conceding of penalties, and a small number of missed tackles. The result was that the home side enjoyed more possession, and had the better of the game, territorially.
There was nothing wrong with the Salford resolve, however, and they worked hard to repulse the attacks, limiting the Rovers to just two converted tries, which gave them the lead at the end of the first forty.
The second half was a different story, as the Devils increased their speed and intensity, and consequently took charge of the game as a whole, with the Robins being the ones forced into handling errors, from which the visitors benefitted considerably. Indeed, no less than three of Salford’s tries were a direct result of the Humbersiders’ spilling the ball under pressure, and the Devils’ clinical and ruthless finishing power made the east Hull outfit pay.
There were some fine individual performances, with second rowers, Jordan Walne (left) and Matty Ashurst making light of the absence of Gareth Hock. Both of these young players have been impressive over the last few weeks, with Walne’s power, strength and keenness outweighing his size and experience, whilst Ashurst is now running at gaps thereby punching holes in oppositions’ defences.
Niall Evalds (right) had another impressive game, and again was not only instrumental in others’ tries, but celebrated his newly extended contract with one of his own. In fact, it is significant that every member of the back five, along with scrum half, Theo Fages, scored.
There was little to choose between the sides in the opening stages, with both defences on top and seemingly equal to everything that was thrown at them, and it was not until 19 mins that the armlock was broken, when Hodson caught out the Salford markers by scooting through from a play-the-ball to ground to the left of the posts. Burns kicked the first of his three conversions.
Salford’s response came eight minutes later, when thanks in part to a penalty, they had three consecutive sets of six in sight of the Hull line, culminating with a clever pass by Chase to Mason Caton-Brown, coming unnoticed on a diagonal run to the corner, for the visitors’ opening try.
The respite was short lived, however, and within four minutes, the Rovers had forced a goal-line drop-out, from which Hall received the ball in space and scored by the posts, to bring about the half time score of 12-4.
It was within two minutes of the resumption that the first of Hull’s second half errors saw the ball lost backwards, on the Salford 20m line. This was seized upon by the alert Walne, who started a wonderful handling move, which saw the involvement of Fages (left), whose own second half improvement did much to spearhead the Salford revival, Sa’u, who made good progress down the right before feeding inside to the supporting Evalds who scored under the posts. Griffin dutifully converted.
With the Robins’ lead eroded to a mere two points, the Salford tails visibly went up, and Caton-Brown turned defence into attack with a typical long run down the left, to set up position for the next score, which came with the home side’s dropping of the end of set kick. Junior Sa’u was the grateful beneficiary, and he scored close enough to the posts for Griffin to add the extras and put Salford in the lead, 12-16, on 47 mins.
Any doubts as to whether the Devils could hold onto this lead were quickly removed, on 53 mins, when Fages broke clear from 30m out and put in an angled kick for Griffin to ground over the line and then convert the score. Since his arrival four weeks ago, Josh (top of page) has gone from strength to strength, and his impact, even from the wing, is proving more and more significant, whilst he is also proving an able goal kicker.
The sin-binning of Travis Burns did little to help Hull’s cause, and Theo Fages (above left) made them pay with a beautiful side step which took him past his marker, and he then went on a diagonal run to the posts. Griffin’s conversion took the score to 12-28.
A period of intense Rovers’ pressure, inches from the Salford line, was rebuffed, on 66 mins, by some excellent defence, on the back of which Evalds set up Josh Griffin for his second converted try. 12-34
The Red Devils completed their scoring eleven minutes from time, thanks to Greg Johnson’s (right) stealing the ball, one on one, giving him a clear run to the line, before Weyman snatched a consolation try for Hull.