After some cracking results of late Salford came into Thursday nights match with Hull as clear favourites. It seemed like the Red Devils were starting to get the respect they deserve this season. The club work on a modest budget and have a humble way of going about their business.
Visitors Hull had made a good start to 2022 and when the two sides met on Humberside back in February Salford were thrashed 48-16. A lot has happened since then though. The Airlie Birds have struggled to find form and just like Salford they’ve been hampered by injuries. Hull had won two from their last ten matches conceding 60 points on three occasions over the last two months.
Paul Rowley and his Salford side knew their destiny lay firmly on their own shoulders. They didn’t need to rely on anyone else to make the top six. With three matches to go though the pressure was on and prior to kick off their was a slight sense of expectation amongst the home supporters.
The Red Devils started in sensational fashion. A super pass from Ryan Brierley set Brodie Croft away but the Australian chose not to pass and was swallowed up by the Hull defence. However this didn’t seem to effect Salford’s swashbuckling style of play. Marc Sneyd forced a drop out from a clever attacking kick and on the next play they attacked the right edge before Kallum Watkins powered over.
To credit Hull they held their nerve and soaked up plenty of pressure then levelled the score with a first attack when Will Smith went over, 6-6.
A well timed tackle from Deon Cross forced another goal line drop out. This time Salford fanned the ball left and it was a Tim Lafai who fed Rhys Williams with a lovely pass for the Welsh flyer to bag a try.
The Red Devils continued to dominate and when Sneyd thumped a forty-twenty kick the crowd sensed more points. Sam Luckley went close but the visitors scrambled bravely in defence.
Out of nothing Hull were level when hard working forward Brad Fash went in to score. Luke Gale failed to convert leaving the scores locked at 10-10.
Salford were finding it tough and the dogged Hull side were not going to lie down and surrender. There was more frustration when Salford were penalised when in possession deep in there own half. Gale didn’t hesitate and booted the goal to put his side in front 10-12.
Kallum Watkins rolled the ball across his chest and burst through on a thrilling break. This summed up the half for the home side though as Hull thwarted the chance with some desperate defence.
Salford snatched the lead again early in the second half with a lovely try. Hull coughed up possession in their own half and from a set scrum Ryan Brierley ghosted through showing great balance before laying a try on a plate for Ken Sio.
Hull refused to give in and kept plugging away looking for chink in Salford’s resilience. The home side defended stoutly though and turned on the style when centre Deon Cross finished off a crisp move. Sneyd converted to give Salford a ten point cushion. 22-12.
The visitors now needed to force the pass and with that desperation mistakes crept in. Salford looked to land the knock out punch and clinch the two points but Hull got a try off an error when Jake Connor touched down and Gale converted to drag his side right back into the match at 22-18.
The game was now up for grabs. Salford tried to get into a rhythm but seemed to keep handing chances back to the visitors.
It took a piece of brilliance to clinch the victory and it was man of the moment Brodie Croft who set it up. Soft hands and a wonderful offload to Brierley. The biggest roar of the night bellowed round the stadium as the Salford fullback scored his second try. The hooter sounded as Marc Sneyd lined the conversion up. He nailed it and the race for the playoffs goes down to the final two matches. Salford travel to Castleford on Monday in what could be a playoff deciding match. It’s a huge game and the winner of that one will be in the box seat come the final round of fixtures. Three teams are now competing for the two remaining playoff places. It promises to be a nerve shredding week coming up.
Salford 28 Hull 18.
Big thanks to Steve McCormick for the photos.