The sides placed eighth and ninth in Super League were paired in the second of the Thursday double-header at the Halliwell Jones as Hull FC took on the Salford Red Devils. Hull FC needed the two points to try and hang onto the shirt tails of the top four sides, whereas the hopes of a second consecutive Grand Final appearance for the Red Devils looked a very remote prospect.
The Airlie Birds were the bookies favourites to collect the two points, but Salford were only given a two-point start on the handicap coupon, the game almost too close to call prior to kick off.
Hull FC did well to wrestle the ball out of the grasp of Kris Welham on eight minutes, denying the Red Devils centre a score as he tried to ground the ball. FC opened the scoring on eleven minutes as Jamie Shaul stretched to take a Josh Griffin pass and scamper over from eight metres out. Jake Connor, in for Marc Sneyd who had been stood down as a coronavirus precaution, added the extras.
Salford scored a team try on eighteen through Krisnan Inu who benefitted from a Dan Sarginson dummy and pass as he drew in the winger and gave Inu a clear run to the corner. Inu added the conversion to level the scores. It was a real arm-wrestle.
A high-tackle from Sarginson on Shaul, as the Red Devils full back chased down a high kick, saw him sent to the sin-bin for a ten minute break.
Andre Savelio grabbed Hull’s second try of the game with his first touch after coming off the bench as he took a Tevita Satae pass and bust the line to dive over. Connor added the conversion for a 12-6 lead.
The twelve men were back level on thirty as Joey Lussick crashed the line and grounded the ball after scooting from acting half back from five metres out. Inu added the conversion to make it 12-12.
Inu used his strength to power over the line in the left corner and give Salford the lead for the first time in the game as he took a pinpoint Kevin Brown pass and ran over the top of the FC defence. Inu added the touchline conversion for an 18-12 lead. It was rapidly becoming the Krisnan Inu show.
Salford extended their lead on forty-eight when Rhys Williams collected a Tui Lolohea kick over the top, outpacing the retreating defender, to score. Inu was unable to add the extras, the Red Devils ten points ahead.
Three minutes later Hull struck back, Jamie Shaul finding a bit of space and ducking his head to go through the line after Josh Griffin had made the ground before being hauled down. Connor pushed his kick wide, the margin still six points.
It was end-to-end stuff as Kevin Brown was the provider, dropping the shoulder and passing inside to Andy Ackers for him to go in under the sticks. Inu added the goal for 28-16 with twenty-five minutes remaining.
Jordan Lane single handed grabbed a lifeline for Hull FC when he took a Connor pass on the halfway line and shrugged off three tackles to make the line and dive over. Connor added the conversion, the margin down to six points with twelve minutes left on the clock.
The clock ran out for FC as the Red Devils held firm and forced an error at the crucial moment to regain possession with seconds left on the clock.
Hull’s top four hopes are now laying in tatters while Salford were realistically only interested in the Challenge Cup as a potential trophy is 2020. Despite controlling large parts of the first half the Airlie Birds still trailed at the interval and Salford took charge of the second half to take the points and maintain their momentum ahead of Tuesday’s game against the Warrington Wolves.
Hull FC: Shaul (2T), Scott, Fonua, Griffin, Faraimo, Tuimavave, Connor (3G), Satae, Houghton, Bowden, Lane (T), Ma’u, Sao. Subs: Cator, Fash, Savelio (T), Brown.
Salford Red Devils: Sarginson (SB on 21), Inu (2T, 4G), Welham, Watkins, Williams (T), Lolohea, Brown, Dudson, Lussick (T), Yates, Roberts, Ormondroyd, Flanagan. Subs: Pauli, Ikahihifo, Burke, Ackers (T).
Referee: Chris Kendall.
Half Time: 12-18.
Full Time: 22-28.
Venue: Halliwell Jones, Warrington.