A magnificent second half performance put the seal on what was arguably Salford’s best all round performance of the season, which sent home the Salford fans brimming with sheer delight, and the Humbersiders with their tails firmly between their legs.
Hull got off to the best of starts, opening the scoring after only three minutes’ play, when Jake Connor scooted from dummy half to set up the supporting Ligi Sao with an easy run in, to the left of the posts.
Twice, over the following ten minutes, the visitors carved out openings for themselves in the Salford defence, but were, fortunately, forced into errors which prevented any further scores, and from that the Red Devils gained some little confidence which saw them start to put pressure on the Hull line.
A penalty for off-side gave them back-to-back sets, with Greg Burke being brought to a halt, but not to ground, close to the posts, and his quick play-the-ball enabled dummy half Chris Atkin, to continue the move to the right, with halfbacks Ata Hingano and Tui Lolohea getting the ball to the unmarked Ken Sio who went in, at the corner.
Krisnan Inu landed his first kick from the touchline, and went on to land each and every one of his seven attempts, many of them from out wide, all of which helped the Reds build up an unassailable lead, relatively quickly, once they got on top.
That was for later, though. In the meantime, Hull were able to retake the lead with a penalty goal from Mark Sneyd, until five minutes from halftime, when the Red Devils scored the most remarkable of tries, from a volley of kicks.
First, Atkin put in a high, end-of-set kick to Joe Burgess’s corner, where, as he so frequently does, he climbed high in the air to knock the ball back to Sarginson, who, in turn put in a cross-field kick to the right. This was taken by Ken Sio, who promptly responded with a low short kick of his own into the in-goal area, to where he followed through with the grounding, to put Salford in front 12-8, at the interval.
Fans’ satisfaction with that lead, during the break, was possibly tempered somewhat with concern as to how the visitors might respond in the second half, and respond they certainly did, after seven minutes, with their second try from former Salford half back, Mark Sneyd’s in-goal grubber kick, which ricocheted well from the upright, for Danny Houghton to restore the Yorkshire side’s advantage.
The arm wrestle, which this had interrupted, then continued for a further ten minutes, during which both sides vied to take the ascendency, which, when it eventually came, was well and truly taken by the Red Devils.
Belying the fact that they were squaring up to a big set of forwards, the Salford pack which contained not a single member of the club’s starting pack, at the start of the season, continued exactly where they had left off against the massive forwards of Catalans Dragons, four days earlier.
First, and most importantly, they significantly improved their defensive capabilities, by increasing to three, the number of players involved in many of the tackles, instead of relying on one-on-one attempts to bring down bigger and stronger opponents. Indeed, Jack Ormondroyd had had his afternoon brought to a prematurely early finish, after he had been laid out in one of the opening clashes.
In addition, the hard graft of making yardage up field was shared out with the three-quarters, all of whom made their fair share of progress into the Hull ranks, and towards their line. Ken Sio may quite well have been awarded Man of the Match, not only for his great fete in scoring four tries, but also, for his strong contribution, in this respect, throughout the game.
The rewards for this spate of sheer hard graft, were to come in the last quarter of the game, when their leg-weary opponents were really put to the torch. Salford, still looking remarkably fresh, put together a display of first-class entertainment by means of top-drawer attacking skills, which completely ripped the Hull defence to shreds.
In the final twenty-two minutes, Marshall’s men scored no less than five converted tries producing a total of thirty points which they accrued at a rate of well over a point per minute. Salford have invariably looked a well-drilled attacking side, but often spoiling things with simple errors. There was none of that, on Monday, and as the game sped quickly by, it looked more and more as though they could score at will, and they more or less did exactly that.
The avalanche was started on 57 mins, by Atkin, with a scoot from dummy half, but the build up to that simple act had lasted exactly three and a quarter minutes of ball-in-play action, during which they started no less than eight sets, as a consequence of three set-restarts, two penalties, a Hull touch-in-flight, and a goal-line drop-out. Little wonder, then, that that final scoot caught the opposition’s defence somewhat off-guard.
The remaining four scores were considerably more straight forward, with Burgess, once again, scaling the heights in Hull’s in-goal area, this time to palm the ball back to Harvey Livett for the first. This was followed three minutes later by smooth hands sending the ball from right to left, with a final, telling, pass from Lolohea to the unmarked Burgess, who romped home to put the game well beyond the aspirations of the visitors.
Indeed, their subsequent kick-off failed to make the required ten metre mark, which meant Salford were in possession and on the attack again. This time the ball was moved to the right and Lolahea’s pass on this occasion put Sio in for his hat-trick.
It had, however, been a couple of weeks since we had last seen that Salford hallmark of a length of the field try, down the right flank, so cue, Inu, once again, to be provider and Sio to round off an incredible afternoon for the Red Devils, and, on a personal note, for himself, also.