For both sides the challenge cup plays a pivotal part in their history. The Robins solitary cup final victory came in 1980. For Salford it’s now over 81 years since Lance Todd’s famous Red Devil’s side of the 1930’s lifted the prestigious trophy. Both sets of supporters were dreaming of Wembley with victory this afternoon securing a place in the last eight. Josh Jones pulled out in the captains run with coach Ian Watson moving Jake Bibby into the second row paving the way for Ken Sio to return on the wing. The early possession and territory was dominated by the home side. Struggling to find a consistent rhythm errors crept in to Salford’s play. Rovers scored the first points from a real sucker punch try. Kane Linnet going over from close range with Ryan Shaw converting. Shortly after Salford hit back with a well worked try from powerful centre Krisnan Inu. Salford took the lead after some good work from Greg Burke and Inu sending fullback Niall Evalds into score, again Inu failed to convert however Salford held a slender 8-6 advantage.
Six minutes before the break the best move of the half saw a thrilling Red Devils attack. Wonderful ball movement and support play before Kris Welham raced in to score against his former club.
The first points of the second half came from an Inu penalty goal. This nudged Salford into a ten point lead 16-6.
Hull Kr needed a response to gain any sort of foothold in the game. Robert Lui kicked out on the full to give The Robins a life line and when back to back sets were strung together Josh Drinkwater darted in from a set scrum to reduce the arrears.
At 16-12 Salford cautiously decided to kick another penalty goal when perhaps turning the screw on The Rovers defence might have been a wiser option. 18-12 was as good as it got for Watson’s men as the visitors grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck.
Danny McGuire and Craig Hall created a try out of nothing for Taioalo Vaivai.
The travelling supporters held their breath as Ryan Shaw calmly slotted the conversion off the touch line to tie the scores at 18-18.
McGuire and Drinkwater were now bossing the game and dictating the play on their terms. With seventeen minutes remaining Salford’s defence was caught napping once again. This time hooker Danny Addy scooted over from dummy half.
Trailing by six points entering the final ten minutes Salford began to show signs of urgency but this hampered their progress as they couldn’t find the composure to post any points.
Receiving a penalty within range, Rovers made the obvious choice to take the two points to establish an eight point lead with time running out.
The final say went to former Red Devil Weller Hauraki who coasted over to score after some powderpuff Salford defence.
Perhaps Salford’s worse display of the season but Hull Kr deserved plenty of credit for a very controlled and potent second half performance.
The Holy Grail of the Challenge Cup is lost for at least another twelve months leaving coach Ian Watson bitterly disappointed with his team after the match.
A week can be a long time in Rugby League. After last weekend’s victory over Leeds on top of a very good Easter programme crashing out of the cup is a real sickener for the supporters and players.
Things don’t get any easier for Salford with a trip to St Helens next Friday in a fixture that’s not seen any success since January 1980.
Salford 18 Hull kr 32.