Salford claimed their first away win in over ten months with a 30-12 victory at struggling Huddersfield Giants.
It was a scrappy contest lacking in quality, but Salford produced enough moments in attack to beat a woeful Giants side whose winless run stretches to six matches.
After an even start to the game, Salford grabbed quick back-to-back tries to take a hold on the scoreboard.
The first came from Mark Flanagan, who forced his way past three Huddersfield defenders to score from close range.
Two minutes later they were in again, with Flanagan again involved as he wiggled through sloppy defence down the middle before offloading to the supporting Ben Nakubuwai. Lui scored the two simple conversions to put them 12-0 up.
A succession of penalties gave Huddersfield chances to attack, however, and they got a try back when Lee Gaskell found Innes Senior who did well to round Greg Johnson and dive into the corner.
Danny Brough added the two and it remained 6-0 to half-time, as the Giants failed to build on the momentum of two successive drop outs and find a way through.
A Lui penalty stretched the lead to eight points early in the second half, before he created the Devils’ third try with a short pass to Weller Hauraki, who was running a great line to storm through a gap in the Giants defence.
Huddersfield didn’t give in there though, coming back with a score of their own four minutes later as Gaskell slipped in Oliver Roberts.
As the game became increasingly scrappy, Huddersfield failed to create another try and Lui added another penalty with eight minutes remaining to extend the lead for the visitors.
Brough was sent off four minutes from time for dissent, and Salford punished the disadvantaged Giants with two final tries to put extra gloss on the scoreboard.
Both were scored by Jake Bibby, who first completed a good move right by taking a pass from Evalds in space, before finishing a break up the pitch thanks to a delightful offload out the back by Hauraki.
The result moves Salford into the top eight for the first time this season, while Huddersfield’s struggles continue with just a point separating them from bottom side Catalans.
WHAT WE’VE LEARNED
SALFORD CERTAINLY NOT DEAD AND BURIED
Few were optimistic about Salford’s chances this season after losing a number of key players without the resources to replace them.
However coach Ian Watson continues to get the Red Devils fighting above their weight, and his side put in a solid performance here to get the win they needed.
Their forwards had the better of their opponents for much of the game, with Weller Hauraki and Mark Flanagan standing out in particular.
If Watson can continue to get the best out of a stretched squad, they have every chance of making the Super 8s for a second successive season.
LITTLE CHEER FOR GIANTS
On the flipside there can be few positives for Huddersfield, as another defeat to a rival near the bottom of the table makes the prospect of relegation a very real one.
Chris Thorman is yet to pick up a win, and any new permanent head coach will have a huge challenge on his hands to turn around a side lacking in confidence.
Having big players like Jermaine McGillvary and Jake Mamo back will be a huge boost, but at the moment times are bleak with a lack of creativity in attack, a forward pack unable to assert themselves on a game, and an extremely porous defence.
Man Of The Match- Robert Lui (Salford Red Devils)
Robert Lui was the standout player on the pitch, a class above the rest. Every time he had the ball in hand Salford looked like a real threat.
He started with a 40/20 four minutes into the game, and continued to shine throughout the whole game. He was responsible for most of the openings that Salford created, not to mention the ten points with the boot.
With the loss of the likes of Michael Dobson and Ben Murdoch-Masila over the winter, and Gareth O’Brien last month, the number of top players has declined but Lui continues to stand up and make the difference, and Salford would be in a very difference place without him.
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING
Huddersfield Giants Interim Head Coach Chris Thorman
“For most parts we competed, but when you make 13 errors with the ball, unforced, and when you concede twelve penalties, you’re going to be chasing your tail a little bit.
“When you need to get the two points, you have to execute and you have to be clinical, and I thought we were a little bit off in terms of that.”
Salford Red Devils Head Coach Ian Watson
“I thought we started well, and then we got a little scrappy in between, where we just weren’t finishing our sets well in the first half.
“Then in the second half we got our composure back and even when they had a purple patch we defended really well. We weathered the storm and then we knew it was going to turn at some point.
“Robbie [Lui] just knows his main strength is his running game, so if he starts off like that his game builds on the back of it and then he can start creating for others as well. He’s been outstanding for us at the moment.”
Huddersfield Giants 12
Tries: I Senior, Roberts
Goals: Brough (2)
Drop Goals: n/a
Salford Red Devils 30
Tries: Flanagan, Nakubuwai, Hauraki, Bibby (2)
Goals: Lui (5)
Drop Goals: n/a
Huddersfield: Rankin; McIntosh, Turner, Murphy, I Senior; Gaskell, Brough; Ikahihifo, Leeming, Clough; Roberts, Ta’ai, Smith.
Interchanges: Hinchcliffe, Walne, Mellor, English.
Salford: Evalds; Bibby, Welham, Sa’u, Johnson; Lui, Littlejohn; Nakubuwai, Tomkins, Mossop; Hauraki, Jones, Flanagan.
Interchanges: Kopczak, Tasi, Lannon, Wood.
Referee: James Child