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Hull FC 42 Salford Red Devils 20

Match report by Nigel Roberts from The KC Stadium

5th February 2016
The Reds made the long trip to Humberside for their opening Super League game in a confident mood following their impressive win over Wigan Warriors in their last pre-season friendly two weeks ago. Coach Ian Watson handed debuts to Gareth O’Brien,Justin Carney,Josh Jones,Robert Lui,Craig Kopczak, Ben Murdoch-Masila,Matt Sarsfield and Mark Flanagan.

Salford didn’t get off to the best of starts when they knocked on from a Hull kick-off to gift possession to their hosts. They withstood an early storm but a great break by hooker Danny Houghton sent Leon Pryce racing in from thirty yards under the posts. Former Reds stand-off Marc Sneyd added the easy conversion for a 6-0 lead after just three minutes.

Eight minutes later the Reds drew level when a neat pass by a slimmed down Junior Sau sent Josh Griffin in to score. He added the extras too.

In the 19th minute the Reds defended well to keep Frank Pritchard from touching down only for the quick thinking Houghton to place an astute kick to the corner for Mahe Fonua to score a debut try (10-6).

As the half-hour approached the Reds defence cracked a third time to allow Jordan Thompson to cross for a score. Sneyd added the extras for a 16-6 lead.

Four minutes later Hull scored a fourth try when winger Fetuli Talanoa barged through to score and shortly after Carlos Tuimavave romped over. Sneyd converted the first of these two tries to give the Airlie Birds an impressive 26-6 interval lead.

Within seven minutes of the restart,Hull added two further tries through Josh Bowden and Jack Logan. Sneyd converted Bowden’s try for an embarrassing 36-6 score-line after 47 minutes.

Things got worse for the Reds when full-back O’Brien made a clearing run only for him to lose the ball which led to his opposite number Jamie Shaul scything through to score. Sneyd landed his fifth kick for a 42-6 score.

In the 59th minute the Reds showed they were not quite done for when Murdoch-Masila got the ball out to Sau who scampered over (42-10).

The Reds then suffered a set-back when skipper Tommy Lee was sin-binned for his part in a punch-up.

With less than ten minutes remaining and with just twelve men the Reds added two further tries through Niall Evalds and a second effort from Sau. Second-rower Murdoch-Masila having a hand in both. Michael Dobson converted Sau’s try for a final score of 42-20.

Whilst they conceded eight tries in what was overall a disappointing result the Reds can take some heart from their own attacking display. They didn’t see a lot of the ball but made good use of it when they did. Coaches Ian Watson and Tim Sheens clearly have some work to do on defence but it should be borne in mind that they fielded eight newcomers who plainly need time to get used to each other’s play.

Coach Ian Watson said later: “We gave Hull too much ball and made silly errors. Defensively, they were just running over us and it became a snowball effect.

“We’re confident in the ability we’ve got in there but we need to work hard on doing the little things really well for each other and working hard as a team.

“We need to come out against St Helens (on Thursday) with the right mentality defensively. If you don’t defend, you’re not going to win anything.”

Team: O’Brien, Carney, Jones,Sau, J Griffin, Lui, Dobson, Copczak, Lee, G Griffin, Murdoch-Masila, Sarsfield, Flanagan.
Subs: Evalds, Krasniqi, Joseph, Tomkins.

Attendance: 12,265

Referee: Mr C Kendall

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Editor at large, SalfordOnline.com