Salford beat Hull KR 28-10 to make a perfect start to the Qualifiers at KCOM Craven Park. Here’s our verdict…
Both sides made a cautious start to the game, with no score made within the first half hour of the encounter, but then Salford started playing.
Niall Evalds crossed the whitewash before Craig Hall’s try put Rovers back in business, but Ed Chamberlain got the better of his kicking adversary Danny Tickle to give the Red Devils a two-point lead at the break.
Rovers looked a totally different side to the one that overhauled arch rivals Hull FC in their own backyard two weeks ago and offered little attacking threat throughout the 80 minutes; only scoring once more in the second forty courtesy of Shaun Lunt.
It was an extremely physical battle as both sides fought for both possession and field position. KR did show promise at the end of the first half and they needed to in front of an increasingly impatient home crowd.
Salford, however, were just getting into their groove and made the most of KR’s mistakes all night. Lui went over after good forward work to stretch the visitors’ lead and debutant Joey Lussick made the game safe against a Rovers side that looked tired and lost for ideas.
Josh Wood put the gloss on a brilliant display in both attack and defence as Salford were totally dominant and made a dream start to this year’s Middle 8s. Meanwhile, KR need to analyse and solve their defensive cracks before travelling across the Channel to Toulouse.
Salford will expect to get another victory and move another step closer to safety next week. Relegation as a stark possibility again for KR though and after suffering that fate just two years ago, they will be determined to not let the same happen this year.
WHAT WE’VE LEARNED
KR need to work on defensive shape
Just like in the Hull derby two weeks ago, Rovers seemed vulnerable on the flanks as high balls were aimed down both sides. If they want to survive, and God knows they do, they will need to get back on the training pitch and solidify their backline. If they don’t, another Million Pound Game beckons.
Salford have improved
Just last month, KR thumped Salford 52-22 in a match which the home side totally dominated and looked threatening every time they pushed forwards. Last night’s game however, couldn’t have been more different. Salford have not only improved defensively, but they looked much more creative and were definitely more clinical when they reached Rovers’ twenty. With possibly their hardest match of the Qualifiers over, and won, they should be able to stay safe.
Man of the Match – Robert Lui (Salford Red Devils)
Lui was brilliant from start to finish. His strong, powerful surges through the middles of the Robins’ defence drove his side forwards and made important metres in pretty much every set. Not only was he a force in attack, even getting the all-important third try of the match, but he helped solidify a previously weak defence and ensured that his side walked away from KCOM Craven Park with the two points.
Hull KR 10
Tries: Hall, Lunt
Drop Goals: n/a
Salford Red Devils 28
Tries: Evalds, Lui, Lussick, Woods
Goals: Chamberlain (2), Hastings (4)
Drop Goals: n/a
Hull KR: Quinlan, Oakes, Crooks, Vaivai, Hall, Carney, McGuire, Scruton, Lunt, Mulhern, Tickle, Tomkins, Clarkson.
Interchanges: Greenwood, Kavanagh, Donaldson, Atkin.
Salford: Evalds, Bibby, Chamberlain, Sau, Olpherts, Lui, Hastings, Mossop, Wood, Murray, Jones, McCarthy, Lannon.
Interchanges: Lussick, Flanagan, Tasi, Nakubuwai.
Referee: Robert Hicks