Marc Sneyd was at his thrilling best as Salford Red Devils secured a huge victory over Hull KR.
Round 3 threw Paul Rowley’s side perhaps their toughest test so far; a Robins’ side who came into the contest with a 100% record.
A last minute change – as the team’s came back in from their warm-up – saw Chris Atkin replace the injured Ryan Brierley at fullback.
Kai Morgan was promoted to the interchange bench, making his Salford Red Devils and Betfred Super League debut.
Salford were straight on the front foot from the beginning. Marc Sneyd set the tone, forcing a string of repeat sets from his magical left boot.
A brilliant few carries opened up Rovers and Sneyd’s neat nudge allowed Deon Cross to dart through, touch the ball down and open the scoring.
KR tried to wrestle back momentum via a Mikey Lewis chipped kick, but Chris Hankinson was brave, and claimed the ball before being tackled in the air.
The visitors continued to probe and tried their luck again with a grubber in behind the Salford defence. Stand-in fullback, Atkin cleaned up very well and killed the Rovers attack dead.
A highlight throughout the contest, but particularly in the first forty, was Salford’s dogged goal line D.
Repeat set after repeat set had the Red Devils camped on their own line, but after showing excellent character, the ball was fumbled by Tyrone May.
It was quickly shifted downfield, and some powerful running allowed skipper, Kallum Watkins to open up KR on their own 10 metre line.
A quick play the ball and some instinctive play-making from Cade Cust allowed Chris Hankinson to dive over the right corner for his first try in Salford colours.
Sneyd, from an almost impossible angle, converted in style, extending Salford’s lead to 12 points.
Back for the second forty, ex-Red Devils’ winger, Joe Burgess fumbled the ball on his own goal line, with a further penalty allowing Sneyd to knock over a penalty-goal.
Another two was added by Sneyd shortly after when Lewis hit the halfback late.
Their was still time for a twist in this one, with Cross sent to the bin for Salford when he tried to interfere with Burgess’ quick tap on the 20.
With 12 men on the field, it wasn’t long before Peta Hiku was over in the corner, after selling Lafai a dummy on the right edge.
Rovers came back again for a second time, with Lewis dribbling the ball along the floor before being brought down by Joe Shorrocks.
The on-field call of penalty-try was overturned by the video referee, with multiple KR bodies offside from the original kick.
Hiku was also sent to the bin shortly after, this time giving Salford the man advantage with Cross back on the field.
Things got a bit more tense when Jez Litten scored for KR, but Sneyd – capping off a Man of the Match performance – sunk a drop-goal in front of the sticks to secure the victory for Salford.
Next up for Rowley’s men is a trip to face St Helens.
Salford line-up: Chris Atkin, Chris Hankinson, Nene Macdonald, Tim Lafai, Deon Cross, Cade Cust, Marc Sneyd, Jack Ormondroyd, Amir Bourouh, Brad Singleton, Kallum Watkins, Sam Stone, Joe Shorrocks.
Interchanges: King Vuniyayawa, Shane Wright, Ben Hellewell, Kai Morgan.
Tries: Deon Cross, Chris Hankinson.
Conversions: Marc Sneyd (4/4)
Drop-goal: Marc Sneyd (1/1)
Hull KR line-up: Peta Hiku, Joe Burgess, Tom Opacic, Oliver Gildart, Ryan Hall, Tyrone May, Mikey Lewis, Dean Hadley, Jez Litten, Jai Whitbread, Kelepi Tanginoa, James Batchelor, Elliot Minchella.
Interchanges: Sauaso Sue, George King, Matt Parcell, Sam Luckley.
Tries: Peta Hiku, Jez Litten.
Conversions: James Batchelor (1/2)
Photo credit: Steve McCormick & James Giblin