After last week’s morale boosting win at Widnes Vikings,the Reds were hoping to finish off their regular season before the start of the middle 8’s with a win against table-topping Hull FC. Justin Carney was side-lined with the thigh injury he picked up last week,so coach Ian Watson drafted in Niall Evalds on the wing. Adam Walne came in on the bench.
The visitors took a 5th minute lead when sharp cross-field passing created an overlap for winger Steve Michaels to cross by the flag. Former Reds player Marc Sneyd’s in-swinging kick sailed between the posts for a 0-6 lead.
A fumble by Hull’s Gareth Ellis ten minutes later was seized upon by Michael Dobson who hacked the loose ball forward and just managed to win the race to get his fingertips in the ball. Gareth O’Brien converted to draw the side’s level at 6-6.
A great 40/20 from O’Brien was squandered at one end and play quickly moved to the other end and in the 26th minute Frank Pritchard who had only been on the pitch for a few seconds got on the end of a pass from Danny Houghton to score by the posts. Sneyd added the easy kick to put the Humbersiders ahead at 6-12.
Both sides tried hard to add to their scores but defences held firm for the rest of the half.
A Dobson drop-goal attempt after the hooter could have reduced the arrears but his kick was a bit of a flapper.
In the 53rd minute some slick handling saw Craig Kopczak hauled down just short of the line. The ball was quickly moved out to the wing for Mason Caton-Brown to score in the corner. O’Brien’s kick unfortunately rebounded back off the posts to leave the Reds trailing by two points at 10-12.
Hull came storming back on the hour when Chris Green dodged inside the Reds cover to score the posts. Sneyd’s third conversion brought a 10-18 lead.
Eight minutes later the Reds scored their third try of the evening when a great run by Dobson split the Hull defence wide open. He handed on to Robert Lui who put Evalds through a gaping hole to score. O’Brien converted for a 16-18 scoreline.
Three minutes later the Reds were ahead when a storming run by Josh Jones took play deep into the Hull half and as they pressed in the corner Lui chipped through and followed up to score. O’Brien’s kick curving wide 20-18.
Within five minutes Hull had regained the lead when Sneyd burst through and slid over the line. He added the kick for good measure (20-24).
Hull then seized victory when slick handling was finished off by centre Mahe Fonua for a final score of 20-28.
From the very offset the Reds looked sharp and with a bit of luck could have pulled off a surprise victory. Michael Dobson was a continual menace throughout whilst Ben Murdoch-Masila and Josh Jones as a unit had perhaps their best games of the season.
Coach Ian Watson said after the game : “I thought we were a bit unlucky and we came up against some tough decisions.
“We can be a bit smarter in certain areas but we are looking forward to the middle eights and we have to remain positive.
“We have proved we can consistently perform but must not take our eye off the ball.
“A couple of our guys were off a bit tonight but Hull are a team who can wear sides down but our effort was excellent.”
Salford: O’Brien; Caton-Brown,Sau,J Griffin,Evalds,Lui,Dobson,Kopczak,Tomkins,G Griffin, Murdoch-Masila, Jones,Flanagan.
Subs: Hauraki,J Walne,Kenny,A Walne.
Referee: Mr C Campbell