A high-scoring affair kicked off a Sunday triple-header as Ian Watson’s Red Devils ran riot against an abject Hull side.
A Lolohea-inspired Salford ran in ten tries as Salford hit 50 against a Hull side who clearly still have major vulnerabilities, having been on the receiving end of a fair few thrashings since 2017 despite being a very strong team on paper that should be doing much better.
During the first half Hull struggled to adequately control the basics, poor ball control during exit sets and poor defensive contact which was brutally punished by Salford who were very clinical in their attacking execution as the halftime score-line read Salford 22-12 Hull.
The second half saw even more of Salford’s scintillating attacking rugby as Hull’s defensive contact, structure and intensity fell to pieces during the final twenty minutes and there will be a lot of question marks over their collective preparation and commitment as a team.
In a free-flowing, open game Hull made several line breaks during the second half but their ball movement in Salford’s 20 lacked fluidity in contrast to Salford who were far too good at the other end.
Ironically it was Hull who drew first blood as the lively Albert Kelly put in a close-range grubber kick and Salford’s Dan Sarginson who was in a good position to deal with the kick failed to diffuse the ball and the former Hull KR man was on hand to pounce in-goal and scored the game’s opening try. Sneyd duly converted.
During Salford’s first purposeful attack of the game they were able to strike back as the maverick Lolohea, who had a sensational game, supplied a beautiful cut-out pass for Ken Sio who had a simple finish in the corner. The Tonga Halfback was able to convert the try he provided from wideout to lock the scores up at 6-6.
Salford were on top for the remainder of the half, exploiting Hull’s handling errors during exit sets. On 21 minutes Lolohea displayed an outstanding show of strength to give Salford the lead; he had the guile to take an unexpected charge at the line and left the much bigger Manu Ma’u and Josh Jones on the floor to touch down. 12-6.
Just four minutes it got even better for the flourishing Reds who were starting to play some scintillating rugby, their try came about when Castleford-bound Niall Evalds chimed into the line with good timing as ever and produced a trademark cut-out pass to his winger Sio who was able to produce an accurate enough kick under pressure for the supporting Lolohea to reach just before going dead for his second try of the afternoon. The in-form Standoff was able to convert his own try. 18-6.
That man Evalds came up with yet another key contribution for Salford’s fourth try, providing an outstanding tip-on pass to his winger Rhys Williams who had enough strength to barge his way through some questionable Hull tackle attempts to put his side three scores in the clear.
Hull responded with the final play of the half after a sustained spell of pressure; the destructive back-row forward Ma’u just about managed to force the ball on the whitewash. 22-12 the half-time score with Salford in control but Hull at least then still with a chance of launching a fightback.
The second half began disastrously for the lacklustre Black and Whites as Kelly, who in truth was one of Hull’s better performers on the day, sent a short ball on the last tackle straight into the hands of Chris Atkin who had enough pace to race the length of the pitch despite a fantastic effort from big Jones who nearly caught him, albeit in vain. Lolohea landed the conversion and it was now a long way back for Hull.
Then came a very free-flowing, end to end period of the game where the rucks and ball movement were both very quick and both sides produced elements of fluent attacking rugby with Hull, who were generally poor during the match as a whole, playing their part. They were next to score in-fact as fans favourite Tuimavave made a break out of nothing, fending off Sarginson and had enough pace to reach the fullback Evalds, committing him and supplying Shaul who sprinted home. 28-18.
That was as close as Hull got as Salford ran in five more tries in the final quarter of the match on an afternoon to forget for the Airlie Birds.
First, Lolohea’s clever chip kick wasn’t dealt with by Shaul and the impressive Luke Yates picked up the loose ball and just about managed to ground the ball under the attention from Jake Connor and Shaul.
Following Ratu Naulago’s sin-bin, Atkin exploited the Fijian Winger’s absence, dabbing in a close-range grubber kick for Williams to pounce on for his second try of what was fast turning into a drubbing.
It got even better for Salford on 74 minutes as Lolohea, who continued to run the show, delivered a pinpoint close-range kick for Kris Welham this time, catching on the first bounce to score. Then three minutes later Lolohea timed a cut-out pass to Sio to perfection for the former Newcastle Knights winger to claim a brace.
Salford reached 54 points during the final play of the game as Evalds showing typically good anticipation, timing his run and collecting Atkin’s close-range kick to score almost under the sticks for Salford’s tenth and final try as Hull’s humiliation was complete. 54-18 at full-time.
This was an excellent and much-needed win for Salford. It’s a shame for them that the momentum of two great wins against Wigan and Hull have been disrupted due to Covid-19 inflicted circumstances. They were superior to Hull in every department during this game and played some of the expansive and fluent attacking rugby we all came to know during 2019.
As for Hull, to call that abject would be putting it mildly. Their vulnerability of conceding huge scores and running out of steam before the end of games are clearly both still big remaining issues. They failed to control the basics in this game. Their set completion and defensive intensity weren’t at the level required and their energy conservation problems will get punished even more under the new set restart rule. A team with so much quality in various positions should not be even nearly as bad as Hull currently are.
Salford Red Devils
- Niall Evalds 9/10
- Ken Sio 8/10
- Kris Welham 7/10
- Dan Sarginson 6/10
- Rhys Williams 7/10
- Tui Lolohea 9/10
- Chris Atkin 7/10
- Lee Mossop 7/10
- Joey Lussick 7/10
- Sebastine Ikahihfo 7/10
- Ryan Lannon 6/10
- Tyronne McCarthy 6/10
- Luke Yates 8/10
- Pauli Pauli 6/10
- Josh Johnson 7/10
- Mark Flanagan 6/10
- Elliot Kear 4/10
- Jamie Shaul 5/10
- Ratu Naulago 5/10
- Carlos Tuimavave 7/10
- Josh Griffin 6/10
- Mahe Fonua 4/10
- Albert Kelly 6/10
- Marc Sneyd 5/10
- Gareth Ellis 5/10
- Danny Houghton 7/10
- Ligi Sao 7/10
- Josh Jones 5/10
- Manu Ma’u 6/10
- Andre Savelio 5/10
- Jake Connor 4/10
- Tevita Satae 5/10
- Josh Bowden 5/10
- Joe Cator 4/10