Match Report – Salford Red Devils
Jamie Ellis knocked over a penalty on the hooter to give Hull KR a welcome 24-22 win over Salford Red Devils.
Both teams were hit by disruption on the morning of the match after receiving their coronavirus test results and it was a fittingly frantic 80 minutes.
KR reporter James O’Brien delivers the verdict from the Halliwell Jones Stadium.
There was an air of inevitability about the drama in the hours leading into the game in Warrington.
A few eyebrows were raised when the fixture was arranged four days before Salford’s Challenge Cup final date with Leeds Rhinos.
With coronavirus cases rising by the day, the smart move would have been to allow the Red Devils and Leeds to lock themselves away in a bubble during Wembley week.
Salford discovered two of their players had tested positive this morning and were left open to more disruption by playing a team with their own issues.
Rovers were playing after a four-day turnaround and had little time to react after getting two inconclusive results hours before the game.
The kick-off was pushed back by an hour to 3pm but the game was in serious doubt with Rovers down to 15 players at one stage before being told certain individuals could play.
Tony Smith was forced into late changes – making seven in all – but KR had the stronger side on paper, with Salford unrecognisable from the team that played Huddersfield Giants last week.
It was a big chance for the Robins to end their five-match losing streak and they were not short of inspiration with Mose Masoe watching on from the sidelines.
Mikey Lewis came agonisingly close to scoring a sensational solo try in the opening minute and alarm bells must have been ringing for Salford when Ben Crooks followed him by making a break down their left edge.
The Red Devils failed to fix up their issues and Lewis was celebrating his first Super League try on 18 minutes after backing up Kane Linnett.
Salford hit back through Connor Jones after catching Rovers short on their left but Smith’s side responded well as they reasserted their dominance by forcing three consecutive goal-line drop outs.
KR eventually found a way through from long range four minutes before half-time, Dean Hadley running a lovely line to storm through the middle and lay the groundwork for Crooks to score his eighth try of the year.
The Robins went into the break with a 12-6 lead, a far cry from the previous four games which were all over by half-time.
Rovers suffered a setback after the restart when Luke Yates was allowed to power his way over under the posts and the match was in the balance entering the final quarter with the Red Devils enjoying more of the ball.
KR looked as if they had finally broken Salford’s resolve when Lewis was awarded a penalty try but back came Ian Watson’s side, Oliver Ashall-Bott taking advantage of poor defence to jink his way over.
Pauli Pauli knocked on in the set after the restart and Rovers made the big forward pay as Jordan Abdull went over from a superb offload by Weller Hauraki.
Salford looked set to win it after Ed Chamberlain scored in the corner but he missed the conversion and Ellis gave KR their third win of the season after Pauli Pauli was penalised for a high tackle on Matt Parcell.
The game was heading to golden point until Pauli Pauli’s late indiscretion. It was another one of those games for a forward who loves an error and a penalty.
Good day – Mikey Lewis
The teenager was handed a recall at full-back and took the opportunity with both hands. He looked dangerous every time he got the ball in his hands, with his early break particularly eye-catching.
Bad day – Rugby league
It’s a thankless task trying to get all the fixtures in but the sport isn’t doing itself any favours. From making the Challenge Cup finalists play four days before Wembley to organising a Hull derby for a coronavirus hotspot on the other side of the country, questions have to be asked of the powers that be.
The bigger picture
Rovers have nine days to rest up before taking on Castleford Tigers in St Helens. Today’s win should do Smith’s side the world of good as they look to end a hugely draining year on a high.
Hull KR: Mikey Lewis, Ben Crooks, Kane Linnett, Jordan Abdull, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Jamie Ellis, Ryan Brierley, Robbie Mulhern, Elliot Minchella, Will Maher, Weller Hauraki, Dean Hadley, Mitch Garbutt.
Bench: Kyle Trout, Matty Gee, Matt Parcell, George Lawler.
Salford: Oliver Ashall-Bott, Ed Chamberlain, Connor Jones, Elliot Kear, Luis Roberts, Tom Gilmore, Chris Atkin, Sebastine Ikahihifo, Andy Ackers, Oliver Roberts, Ryan Lannon, Tyrone McCarthy, Greg Burke.
Bench: Connor Aspey, Luke Yates, Krisnan Inu, Pauli Pauli.Back To Latest News +