Salford victories at Magic Weekend, have, over the years, been few and far between, with the last one coming with their 36-22 triumph over Leigh, back in 2017, so for the Red Devils to come away with the league points against a higher placed opposition was a most satisfactory outcome. That it also came over a team, which had succeeded in notching up five successive wins against the Reds, made it all the more enjoyable.
The scoreline of 26-16 may appear to point to a closely fought battle, but, as occasionally happens, actually disguises the story behind it, for the Reds were by far the better of the two sides, and thoroughly deserved their win. They dominated possession throughout the game, and whilst not at their best in so doing, respected possession better than the Robins. Their discipline was far better, and they most sensibly sought to take advantage of many of their opponents’ indiscretions with the trusty boot of Marc Sneyd, who thereby added eight points to their tally, at a most crucial middle period of the game.
The combination of lengthy periods of possession, particularly in the opening spell, coupled with additiional penalties in their favour, meant that they held superior field position for great swathes of the game, to the extent that the Salford contingent behind the goals must have been most thankful when half-time came, and they then had the chance of seeing the game at much closer range.
For once, in recent encounters with the Robins, it was Salford, with Brodie Croft returning to his best form of the season, who had the match winner on their side, his break on 18 minutes setting up Joe Burgess for the try which cancelled out Hull KR’s opener which had come very much against the run of play.
The reduction in the number of players on the field between the 61st and 75th minutes was of somewhat unnoticed benefit to Salford, for even though it involved the loss of Deon Cross,, the extra space available to the pacey, slick Salford backs was exploited to the full, leading to two converted tries from Sio and Atkin to compensate for their earlier disappointments, as compared with one four-pointer from Hall.
It was, however, the missed chances which, had they gone Salford’s way would have opened up a far more commanding lead, that were, apart from the result, the most prominent feature of the game, with a succession of opportunities, for a variety of reasons, going begging.
It was early as the fourth minute that Chris Atkin was denied a try under the posts from a dummy-half scoot, by Hull’s defence, which turned out to be their greatest asset. Without that they would have been in quite serious difficulties as they time and again turned up, and in numbers, to thwart Salford’s scoring opportunities, as further exemplified in the ninth minute, by their preventing Ken Sio from grounding in the corner, in a situation where we all would normally expect him to have scored.
Even Kallum Watkins’s much discussed effort, on seventeen mins, was prevented from being awarded as a consequence of the number of defending bodies being around him thus seemingly making his actual genuine grounding of the ball more questionable to the referee, while the same could also be said of Tim Lafai’s overturned score, because of issues around Burgess’s keenly challenged take of the ball in the air, with this time the video-referee making the call.
Perhaps the most surprising disappointment of all was when, in the 55th minute, Cross completely in the clear and with the unmarked Sio in support, was called back as a result of a collision in back field, which was determined to have affected his break.
Indeed, Salford looked the more dangerous from further out mid-field, than close up to the line, where they seemed to struggle to find the telling pass to unlock the well-drilled goal-line defence of the Yorkshiremen. They looked more likely to find the key to doing this when moving the ball to the right flank, which was where most of those early, close calls came.
So yet again, the Red Devils were successful with the outcome, maintaining their march up the table to fourth, at the end of the weekend, and extending their number of wins, in all games, to six out of the last seven. This latest one, however, could have further beneficial effect for their forthcoming visit to the home of the Robins, for the quarter-final of the Challenge Cup. Success breeds success, and having now broken the winning run of their hosts-to-be, they can travel over there in some confidence to test their metal in the Challenge Cup.