Salford look to make amends for their first home loss in 9 games last time out as they host Hull FC at the AJ Bell Stadium. Hull come in off the back of a good win at home against an out of form Wigan side and need a win to further their claims for a top 4 spot.
LAST TIME OUT
Both Hull and Wigan went into their Round 17 clash off the back of losses to Catalans and Wakefield respectively. Hull opened the scoring through Steve Michaels as Wigan looked all at sea in the opening encounters. Minichello added another soon after, before Michaels crossed once more from a sublime Danny Houghton pass off the base of the ruck. Before Wigan could reply, Houghton crossed under the sticks off the back of a tight exchange with Danny Washbrook from 20m out. Wigan replied just four minutes before the half time break to make the score 26-4 going into the sheds.
It didn’t take long before Wigan struck again just four minutes into the second half, with Liam Marshall showing Jamie Shaul the gas and crossing in the corner. Wigan continued their comeback with Lewis Tierney gathering an exquisite offload from Liam Farrell to cross just left of the posts. Marshall added the extras to reduce the black and whites’ lead to just 12 points. Hull, however, had other ideas and quickly replied with a Jamie Shaul wonder try off the back of broken play. Albert Kelly was soon to back it up with a trademark breakaway effort to all but seal the victory for Hull, with the scoreboard 24 points in their favour. Wigan attempted a belated comeback with 3 quick-fire tries to cut Hull’s lead to thirteen but couldn’t do enough to salvage the game, which they seemingly threw away in the first half.
By contrast, Salford went into their Round 17 clash with Wakefield off the back of seven straight wins, while their opponents came into the clash off the back of six. Salford looked as though they would open the scoring with a well worked move down the right hand side, only for an error to be picked off by Mason Caton-Brown who ran the length to score down the opposite end. Salford once again handed their opponents another try from a strong attacking position, when Micahel Dobson through an interception that eventually found it’s way into the hands of Reece Lyne who ran 70m to score in the corner. Wakefield continued to capitalise on an error strewn Salford performance, this time through a defensive error from the Salford left edge defence, and with only 7 minutes left of the half, Wakefield led 16-0. Salford managed to reply just before the half time hooter with a well-worked move that put Jake Bibby over in the corner. Michael Dobson added the extras to narrow the gap to 10 points before heading in for the half time oranges.
Salford came out firing in the second half, with tries from Craig Kopczack and Jake Bibby, both of which converted by Dobson, to lead 18-6 with 25 minutes left. Wakefield replied just 10 minutes later, once more through Mason Caton-Brown, before Lama Tasi crossed just 8 minutes from time to take the lead for Salford, only for Caton-Brown to score once more and all but seal the victory for the visitors. Wakefield scored once more to stretch their lead, eventually winning 34-24 in a very competitive battle between two of the form sides in Super League this season.
In the playmaking department, Salford include 3 half-backs in their 19-man squad while Jake Connor will continue to stand in for Marc Sneyd for Hull. Salford’s halves have struck a great balance of flair and pragmatism this season, and despite Robert Lui and Michael Dobson directing their side around the pitch for the majority of this season, Todd Carney has recently hit a rich vein of form after standing in when Ian Watson rested Dobson against Warrington. With all three in the side and Gareth O’Brien at fullback, Salford will not be short of points. After stuttering last week, Dobson, Lui, O’Brien, and Carney will collectively need to have a big performance to quash a determined effort from a Hull side with their tails up.
By contrast, Jake Connor and Albert Kelly can win this for Hull by repeating their feats of last week. Hull have outstanding outside backs, and with the inclusion of Mahe Fonua in the 19, it is even more important that they create opportunities for them to finish off. Ultimately, with both sides leaking points, it’ll come down to the playmakers in this one to take advantage of those defensive frailties and be clinical when doing so.
Salford will be livid with their loss last time out in front of a home crowd, and can be expected to bounce back from it this week. They seemed to be drained after the tough bank holiday period in a game where errors cost them, but with a 5 day rest, they should have enough juice back in the legs to play to form this week. In contrast, Hull ended the congested period with a much needed win against Wigan, where they looked to be some way closer to their best. However, the Wigan side have shown to be very weak at the moment, including the concession of 50 points against Leigh tonight, and as a result, the win doesn’t look so imperious. Salford never seem to be short of points, and while Hull sit just 1 point shy of the Super League top four, their form is very unreliable as of late. Without doubt, it’s a tough one to call, but Salford should get over the line here and continue their charge to the grand final. Salford by 8.
Salford Red Devils: Bibby, Brining, T Carney, Dobson, Evalds, Griffin, Hasson, Hauraki, Kopczak, Krasniqi, Lannon, Lui, Murdoch-Masila, Murray, O’Brien, Sa’u, Tasi, L Tomkins, Welham.
Hull FC: Shaul, Fonua, Tuimavave, Griffin, Talanoa, Kelly, Houghton, Watts, Connor, Green, Thompson, Washbrook, Michaels, Manu, Rawsthorne, Turgut, Downs, Fash, Matongo.