Salford travel to East Hull on Friday night to face Hull Kingston Rovers in the opening round of the Qualifiers. Seven matches remain to preserve Super League status for 2018. The Robins along with Leeds are the bookmakers favourites to battle it out for top spot. Salford will face both these two sides away from home. It’s a tough start for a The Red Devils but after a thrilling victory over Leeds last time out confidence around the squad seems to be renewed.
Jackson Hastings seems to have brought a buzz back to a team that was really struggling a few weeks ago. Ian Watson was desperate for players with injuries taking there toll on his small squad. Ed Chamberlain and Greg Burke arrived from Widnes, Jackson Hastings and Joey Lussick from Australia. Add to that young forward Jansin Turgut from Hull FC and a host of injured players returning to the fold Salford will be looking to pull off a big win this Friday.
Hull KR are a team brimming with confidence at the moment after a superb run of results towards the end of the regular season. A stirring derby win away at City Rivals Hull last time out has given Tim Sheens men the belief they can top the Qualifiers table.
Like Salford The Robins have drafted in new blood with Joel Tomkins joining from Wigan, Ben Crooks and Craig Hall arriving from Leigh. Former Salford player Todd Carney has also moved to East Hull. Points machine Craig Hall has represented both Hull clubs and made his second Robins debut in the derby fixture a fortnight ago. Scoring two superb tries in that game Hall is definitely a player Salford need to keep an eye on.
Hull Kingston Rovers like Salford have a rich history in Rugby League. The Robins were one of the most feared teams in the country back in the late 1970s/early ’80s. Regular cup final appearances followed and great battles with City rivals Hull. This came to a head at Wembley in 1980 when the two sides contested The Challenge Cup Final. In front of 95,000 spectators Rovers claimed a 10-5 victory, Brian Lockwood lifting the Lance Todd Trophy.
Niall Evalds scores a crucial try in the Million Pound Game of 2016
Here are a few big games from the past between the two sides down the years
24th April 1970 Hull kr 27 Salford 16 Championship playoff
30th December 1972 Hull kr 13 Salford 15 John player semi final
7th December 1974 Hull kr 25 Salford 17 John player 3rd round
15th March 1981 Hull kr 18 Salford 9 Challenge Cup 3rd round
28th February 2003 Hull kr 2 Salford 12 Challenge Cup
1st October 2016 Hull kr 18 Salford 19 Million pound game
Stuart Williams on the charge in the 1981 Challenge Cup encounter
They played for both.
Here are a selection of players to have represented The Robins and The Red Devils,
Greg Austin, Greg Burke, Chris Charles, Michael Dobson, Sean Gleeson, Darrell Goulding, David Hodgson, Lee Jewitt, Justin Carney, Jordan Walne, Phil Joseph, Tommy Lee, Tyrone McCarthy, Craig Murdock, Cory Paterson, Gareth Price, Scott Taylor, Tony Puletua, Richard Smith, Iain Thornley, Kris Welham and Todd Carney.
With The Qualifiers being a short competition of seven matches a good start is vital.
Victory for Salford on Friday won’t guarantee Super League status next year but it would be a massive statement to make going forward.
It’s been two weeks since The Red Devils last match and that win against the odds over Leeds. This has given Ian Watson the chance to bed his new signings in and freshen the squad up with players returning from injury. Watson’s attention to detail on the training ground is quite remarkable. The former half back is a student of the game who likes to cover all angles. In what has been a testing season for Salford Ian’s hard work, passion and commitment is there for all to see.
It promises to be a fascinating match under the lights on Friday night and one definitely not to be missed. The action gets under way at 8pm, safe travels and enjoy the match, Paul Whiteside.