For just over fifteen highly encouraging minutes, the Salford fans who had made the journey over to Hull filled with the confidence that their hopes and expectations were well-placed, revelled in an opening stanza, which had their hosts well and truly on the rack.
Indeed, all the firepower in those initial exchanges lay with the Red Devils, who enjoyed the lion’s share of possession, and who were, consequently able to pen Hull on their own line for the bulk of this time.
They ran strongly, spread the ball swiftly and accurately, and when called upon to, tackled with energy and desire. In fact they did almost everything they could have done, except score.
Not that they were without opportunities, for they created three, but unfortunately without success, the first coming when Shane Wright was stopped by a last ditch tackle, extremely close to the line;
Soon afterwards, Brodie Croft’s kick-in-goal was just a little too strong for the chasing Ken Sio, who was unable to repeat his similar try-scoring feat from last week, and the ball had cleared the dead-ball line, before the winger got his hands to it.
Their final chance of taking the lead came with Joe Burgess’s scoot from dummy-half, only for him to be held up over the line, and shortly afterwards the whole game changed far more dramatically than anyone would have predicted.
Off the field, things had not been running as smoothly as is normally the case. The withdrawal of James Greenwood in the warm-up led to the introduction of Ryan Lannon into the side was probably a greater cause of disruption than might be obvious with his inclusion coming not simply onto the bench, but, of necessity, directly into the starting lineup.
Then there was some confusion over an injury to Dan Sarginson, which ended up costing the team two of their allotted substitutions, and meant that players could not be rotated or rested as frequently, or for as long, as normal. King Vuniyayawa, in particular, played a considerable number of minutes, over and above his scheduled time span. Fatigue, and occasionally injury, can be an inevitable consequence of that.
Two wayward passes, however, were the cause of the remarkable first-half turnaround, with both leading to Hull tries on their right flank. These were then followed shortly after by two others the first of which came down that same side of the field, and within that second period of fifteen minutes, the Humbersiders had taken a twenty points, unanswered lead.
To be fair to the Salford players at this stage, they galvanised together, and returned to producing the better aspects of their play which had been so noticeable in the first fifteen, and this time it brought benefits.
A high bomb from Marc Sneyd looked to be well-covered by the Hull defence, only for Tim Lafae to pounce from nowhere, and rob them of the possession, with a try close to the Hull posts.
A half-time deficit of fourteen points is not insurmountable, but one always had the sense that Salford had to be first to score in the second half. They certainly seemed to be up for the task, upon the resumption, but little more than five minutes had elapsed, when they were reduced to twelve men with the sin-binning of Sneyd, after a disagreement with Hull’s Connor.
If the second period of fifteen minutes had been a game-changers, this ten minute spell was to more or less finish off the contest, for by the time Sneyd had returned, the Hull tally had ratcheted up from twenty to thirty-six points, and there was to be little way back for the visitors, thereafter.
In fact it was Hull, who further extended their lead to forty-two points, with the second of two extremely cruel bounces of the ball. Fullback, Ryan Brierley, it had earlier been, whose attempt to deal with a low Hull kick-through, to the posts, had been so thwarted, while for this latest score the bounce prevented Burgess from making the ball safe, and on both occasions Hull chasers were on hand to take advantage of the luck which had come their way.
Nevertheless, the Red Devils once again regrouped to share the scoring in the final twenty minutes with two of their own to match this latest, and one further final one from the home side.
The first of Salford’s could, arguably, make claim to have been the try of the match, starting as it did with a sideways kick to hand, and the ball then passing through six pairs of hands before Sio crossed in the corner.
Tim Lafae wound up proceedings for the visiting Reds, with the second of his brace, touching down a kick through, but it was all little more than cold comfort for those connected with Salford.
Bad days at the office come round to everyone, at times. The important thing is to learn from each, put it behind you, and in Salford’s case produce a quick and effective response, preferably at Huddersfield next week.