It was always going to be difficult to replicate last week’s stunning performance. Hull secured their place at Wembley with a breath-taking display against Leeds but had to turn their attention back to the bread and butter of Super League action last night. They handled that well and despite a shaky first half they ran out comfortable 32-18 winners in the end to give them a three point cushion over the chasing pack from 5th downwards.
Hull started slowly and seemed pretty lethargic early on. Salford capitalised on this and took the lead through NRL import Manu Vatuvei. Jake Bibby did well to get an offload away in the tackle and that gave the New Zealand winger a stroll in.
Thankfully it didn’t take the Black and Whites long to hit back. Their opening try came from a familiar source, Albert Kelly. The maverick half back spotted a gap in the Salford defence and sailed through it with ease. Jake Connor converted to give Hull the lead.
Just two minutes later Hull scored a truly excellent try. Kelly found Manu who made a surging run up the middle of the field. He kept the ball alive and around 7 offloads later Connor fed Carlos Tuimavave who slid over the score. This was a fantastic team try that was started by the rampaging Manu who was excellent once again for Hull.
Salford weren’t to be deterred and hit back soon after. Niall Evalds was fed by a brilliant inside ball from Todd Carney and he bamboozled Jamie Shaul before crossing to score. Salford missed their second successive conversion meaning Hull led 12-8. Hull had looked comfortable but eight minutes before half time Salford took the lead. Salford got some field position on the back of a penalty and Robert Lui made the most of some poor defending from Hull to ghost over from close range. The successful conversion made it 12-14 to Salford.
Hull levelled on the half time hooter thanks to a Jake Connor penalty so the teams went in at half time locked at 14 points apiece.
Hull came out of the blocks firing in the second half and took the lead again in the 48th minute. Jake Connor put a bomb up to the corner and Fetuli Talanoa timed his jump perfectly to grasp the ball and fall over the try line with it. This was just what Hull needed to kick start the second period.
Hull were on a roll now and two minutes later they scored again. Jake Connor deceived the Salford defence with an audacious dummy and strolled over to score under the sticks. Connor’s performance got better and better as the game went on and full credit to him for taking his chance once again in the absence of Marc Sneyd.
In the 60th minute Hull effectively sealed the game when Carlos Tuimavave crossed for his second try. Again Jake Connor was involved, Hull made a break up the middle but the scrambling Salford defence just got back in time. Hull got a quick play the ball and Connor shipped it wide to Tuimavave who made no mistake and crossed in the corner. Connor converted to give Hull a 32-14 lead.
Vatuvei also scored his second try late on to give the scoreline more respectability for Salford but Hull were excellent in the second half and ran out 32-18 winners.
Lee Radford will have been pleased with his side’s second half display especially as they were missing some key players. Gareth Ellis and Sika Manu were excellent in the pack while Jake Connor had his best game in a Hull FC shirt. That all bodes well for next week when Hull face a massive challenge. They travel to St Helens who are the form team in the competition. Hull’s win pulled them two points clear of St Helens but they became the first team to win at Castleford this season on Thursday night and were excellent in doing so.
Hull have a big job on their hands if they are to go to the Totally Wicked Stadium and win which they failed to do as recently as July. If they can find a way to beat the red hot Saints though they will effectively seal their semi-final berth with 5 games to go.