Salford Red Devils 28-18 Hull FC
Hull FC went down fighting at the AJ Bell Stadium with twelve first-team players missing, but Salford’s quality told in the end as the Red Devils saw off a spirited fightback from the Black & Whites.
Tries from Will Smith, Brad Fash & Jake Connor weren’t enough for Hull as the hosts hit back with five of their own, eventually running out 28-18 victors.
Brett Hodgson made five changes from the side that went down last week to Wakefield Trinity, welcoming back Kane Evans and Jake Connor from one-match suspensions. There was also a debut for former West Hull prop Will Gardiner, the fifteenth graduate of FC’s Academy to feature in the first team in 2022. Fellow Academy graduates Denive Balmforth and Jordan Johnstone also returned to Hodgson’s side.
Several of those changes for Hull’s coach were enforced, losing Danny Houghton, Joe Lovodua and Manu Ma’u to season-ending injuries, whilst youngsters Harvey Barron and Matty Laidlaw made way.
Those injuries took Hull’s missing tally to twelve.
Salford coach Paul Rowley made two changes to his matchday 17, with Shane Wright returning in place of Sita Akauola, whilst Rhys Williams took Joe Burgess’ place on the left wing.
Salford enjoyed the better of the first half in possession and territory, but Brett Hodgson would have been the happier of the two coaches going into the break as his troops led thanks to tries from Will Smith and Brad Fash and two goals from Luke Gale.
Salford broke the deadlock just shy of the quarter of an hour mark as Kallum Watkins made the Red Devils pressure tell after five back-to-back sets with penalties and dropouts.
Will Smith struck back for the Airlie Birds shortly afterwards. With Hull’s first use of the ball for a long time, the Black & Whites were awarded their first penalty of the night, which Luke Gale sent into Salford’s half. Kane Evans and then Ligi Sao produced neat offloads, the second finding Will Smith, and his right footstep sent him through a gap in the Salford line and under the posts.
Rhys Williams was the next to cross less than five minutes later. Salford forced another dropout and this time were able to make the pressure tell. The Red Devils kept the ball alive on the last tackle, moved the ball to the left and the Welshman squeezed over in the corner.
Despite more pressure from Salford, Hull were clinical in the way they ended the half, Brad Fash drawing Brett Hodgson’s side level with his second try of the season.
Will Smith sent a bomb spiralling into the night sky which Salford allowed to bounce in goal, Ellis Longstaff and Ryan Brierley made a play for it, but it was Fash who was able to pounce and score for Hull.
There was time for Luke Gale to add a penalty goal before the interval, Hull was awarded a penalty for a Lafai offence whilst in possession and Gale knocking Hull in front at the break.
Salford Red Devils 28 (10)
Tries: Watkins, Williams, Sio, Cross, Brierley. Goals: Sneyd (4)
Hull FC 18 (12)
Tries: Smith, Fash, Connor. Goals: Gale (3).