A markedly improved second half performance brought the Salford Red Devils close, but not quite close enough, to stealing the game from the resurgent Robins, who had dominated the first forty minutes.
A half-time analysis of the situation, and their performance to that point, though, was sufficient to galvanise the team together for an onslaught on their eighteen points deficit, which almost came off in paying the highest of dividends.
As has been said before, eighteen points is not an insurmountable lead, particularly with a full forty minutes in which to do so. Starting the half, as they were doing, however, with only twelve players on the field – Ryan Lannon having been sin-binned for the second successive week just before half – was not the ideal way.
Nevertheless, the Red Devils made light of the handicap, after only two minutes, with slick passing from a scrum fifteen metres out from the Hull line, putting Ken Sio in at the corner. With Sneyd’s conversion from out wide, they were on their way, and only a couple of scores behind.
A much more energised competitive lead was now being given by the pack who were suddenly making great inroads, and good metres, into the visitors’ defence. The whole approach to their attack consequently appeared much more confident and assured, and out of the blue the Robins found themselves on the back foot.
When, eventually on fifty-five minutes, Shane Wright won the race to touch down Sneyd’s kick-in-goal it came as little surprise. What was more of a surprise was that the angle proved somewhat awkward for Sneyd’s conversion attempt, and the deficit remained at two scores.
Sneyd certainly made up for the miss, five minutes later, with an interception from within his own twenty metre area, from which he set up Joe Burgess with a clear run to the line, and there was no mistake this time with the extra two points.
The problem was that Salford were still in arears. It might have been by only two points, but those two points gave Hull the little bit of cushioning they needed to be able to slow the game down, steady themselves, and build pressure of their own, whilst the Reds, on the other hand, were still having to play ‘catch-up’ football.
The hammer blow, though, came ten minutes from the end, when full back, Ryan Brierley, repeated an error he had made towards the end of the first half, misjudging and then failing to take, a high kick from Jordan Abdul, which, on both occasions led to tries from the irrepressible Mikey Lewis. The eight-point deficit now possibly appeared larger than it was, because the Yorkshiremen then controlled the game so well, and it was they who added further to their score with a late penalty goal.
The damage though, had been done in the first half, when the Red Devils were below par in their overall performance. Hull certainly showed their intent and determination from the outset, while Salford were slow out of the trap, and made too many handling errors on attack, which promptly gifted the visitors additional possession and field position.
Even the defence which had been so commendable the week before, was well below the standard they had shown then, as was exemplified by the gap left for Storton to slip through for Hull’s second try.
Whether all of this was caused by the significant amount of energy they had had to expend at Huddersfield, and followed by a short turnaround, or attributable to some other reason, is unknown, but it was encouraging to witness the considerable upturn in their performance in that first thirty minutes of the second half, the quality of which will undoubtedly be beneficial in this coming Friday’s fixture with Leeds Rhinos.