City Of Hull 26 Salford 22 Match Report – David Clegg
The fifty-fifth minute, apparently deliberate tripping of Red Devils’ scrum half, Lewis Fairhurst, as he followed through his own kick into the City of Hull’s in-goal area, denied not only him of his hat-trick, but also the Salford U19s of a crucial four, possibly six points, which would have stood them in good stead, as they strove to overcome a 26-12 deficit.
That the young Red Devils went on to claw back the bulk of this was of little consolation, since they might have expected a penalty try, whilst, in fact, the perpetrator was despatched to the sin-bin, for a ten minute spell. Indeed, the disappointment turned even greater, when, having taken the tap penalty, hooker, Aaron Moore dummied his way over the line, only to pick up a serious-looking leg injury, which caused him to lose the ball in the tackle, and which also deprived the Devils of the services, for the rest of the match and undoubtedly for the rest of the season, of the player who had scored a total of 15 tries in the previous 12 outings.
An injury to fullback, Connor Williams, during the first half, had, sadly, led to his withdrawing at half time, and the backline had to be reshuffled, with stand-off, John Whittaker, moving to fullback. Later, when Moore was taken off, Whittaker had to move to replace him at hooker, and so the team finished the game with seven forwards, and only six backs.
It had been evident from last month’s 24-18 home victory, that the two sides were quite evenly matched, despite the fact that the Yorkshiremen were the combined representatives of both Hull and Hull KR clubs, so it was unsurprising that the first quarter of the game was scoreless, as the two sides wore away at each other in the opening arm wrestle.
In fact, it was the Salford lads who had the better of those early exchanges, but the first converted try, when it came, went their hosts’ way. Their lead was short-lived, however, owing to their losing the ball in the first tackle after the kick-off, and, from the ensuing scrum, Fairhurst opened up the Hull defence, with a smart dummy, to go over to the right of the posts, adding on the successful conversion.
Three Hull tries in the final ten minutes of the half, put a somewhat different complexion on the game, however, as their incisive left flank proved to be capable of opening up the Devils’ defence, almost at will. The subsequent, 20-6, half time score, therefore, looked to be something of a mountain for the visitors to climb, as they took the field for the second half.
Within five minutes of the resumption, however, they had served notice that they were far from finished, forcing the Humbersiders into a handling error, which then enabled Fairhurst to repeat, in similar fashion, his earlier scoring feat, and adding on the extras.
The City of Hull’s left flank, though, continued to be a thorn in Salford’s side, on 50 mins, when they followed up a well-placed kick into space, to score in the corner, and then succeeded in converting from the touchline, to take the score to 26-12.
Having been denied Fairhurst’s hat-trick, five minutes later, it took the Red Devils another ten minutes before they made further inroads into Hull’s lead. Some powerful running by the forwards laid the foundations and set up the position, so that, when they got a repeat set, they were able to move the ball slickly along the line to the right wing, where Jake Knox had plenty of space and time to get to the corner. Fairhurst slotted over the conversion from the touchline to put them within striking distance, at 26-18.
Another Salford attack, on 70 mins, saw substitute, Luke Fowden, off-load to advantage, and a second right flank overlap was worked, with Knox being put clear for his second touchdown, though Fairhurst was unsuccessful with his second touchline, conversion attempt.
Three minutes later, though, he compensated with a 40-20 to set up yet another attack, but unfortunately, the end-of-set kick-in-goal was just a little too hard for the advancing Salford line, and rolled harmlessly into dead. Even then the Salford lads were not finished, and two further attacks on the home line just failed to bring about a further score, which would have brought at least a draw, but Hull hung on victory.