Salford Red Devils proved too good for Hull FC as both sides got their 2020 Super League campaigns back underway following the Coronavirus pandemic.
Hull were punished for an error strewn first-half, and the floodgates opened up late in the second forty.
There were braces for Tui Lolohea, Ken Sio and Rhys Williams, whilst the Hull try scorers were Albert Kelly, Manu Ma’u and Jamie Shaul.
Hull FC got their 2020 Betfred Super League campaign back up and running missing only two senior players through injury; Scott Taylor (back) and Masi Matongo (shoulder).
A catalogue of players occupied the physio room just before the lockdown, but they had all recovered in time to feature this afternoon, including star back-rower Ma’u and winger Ratu Naulago.
Due to the recent birth of his child, Adam Swift was left out of the 21-man squad for the restart match.
Carlos Tuimavave made his 100th Super League appearance for the Airlie Birds, whilst Josh Jones stacked up his 200th Super League appearance, featuring 96 times for this afternoon’s opponents.
Salford were without a host of players for their first match back since the lockdown, including mercurial goal kicker Krisnan Inu and mid-season recruit Andy Ackers.
Greg Burke and Gil Dudson were also sidelined, and despite Salford’s acquisition of Morgan Escare during the lockdown, the Frenchman was not named in Ian Watson’s 17-man squad for the game.
Albert Kelly opened the scoring with only Hull’s second set of the match. It was his grubber kick that Dan Sarginson failed to deal with inside his own in-goal area, and the Australian halfback pounded on the loose ball. Sneyd added the extras to give Hull an early 6-0 lead.
It didn’t take too long for Salford to respond, though. Following Gareth Ellis’ knock on, the Red Devils took full advantage of the field position and scored in the corner with Sio, who recieved a measured looping pass from Lolohea. The Tongan levelled the scores with the conversion after 12 minutes.
Lolohea turned provider to scorer ten minutes later when he showed too much strength for the Hull defence, crashing over from 10 metres out. He added the extras to his own try, making it 12-6 to Salford.
The Tongan once called Headingley his home during his Leeds tenure, and Lolohea was certainly playing with a degree of comfort in the first-half, backing up to ground a kick and score Salford’s third try of the match.
It was becoming a runaway Salford train in the first-half when the Red Devils made Hull pay for yet another error. Williams displayed neat footwork to evade three defenders and score in the left corner. Lolohea missed his conversion attempt from out wide.
A big try from Ma’u gave Hull a major confidence boost going into half-time, showing determination to twist and turn towards the whitewash. Sneyd’s conversion reduced the deficit to just 10 points.
HALF-TIME: Hull FC 12-22 Salford Red Devils
Hull’s comeback attempts were halted in the opening five minutes of the second half, however. The Black & Whites threatened to score at the other end but an Kelly pass was intercepted by Chris Atkin, who had the legs to run the length of the field to score. Lolohea’s conversion made it 28-12 to Salford.
Jake Connor was introduced to the fold and made an instant impact. His ball wide found Tuimavave, who broke the line and found Shaul backing up on the inside, keeping the game alive. Sneyd made no mistake from in front as Salford’s lead was cut to 28-18.
Luke Yates looked to have made it one score too many for a Hull comeback when he got on the end of a Lolohea kick and wrestled the ball to the ground. Lolohea’s kick made it Salford 34 Hull 18.
Any Salford fears of a dramatic comeback were quashed when Williams scored in the corner that Ratu Naulago would normally occupy, with the Fijian in the sin bin.
The Red Devils wanted to finish with a flourish and did so. Lolohea was involved in yet another try as his grubber kick was grounded by former Hull KR centre Kris Welham.
Lolohea wasn’t done there as he supplied yet another try. Ken Sio was the beneficiary this time on the wing for his second of the match.
Niall Evalds scored a try with one minute on the clock, ensuring Salford passed the half-century mark. Lolohea added the extras as the final hooter sounded, with the match finishing Salford 54 Hull 18.
FULL-TIME: Hull FC 18-54 Salford Red Devils
Squads & Scorers
Hull FC: Jamie Shaul, Ratu Naulago, Carlos Tuimavave, Josh Griffin, Mahe Fonua, Albert Kelly, Marc Sneyd, Gareth Ellis, Danny Houghton, Ligi Sao, Josh Jones, Manu Ma’u, Andre Savelio
Hull FC Interchanges: Josh Bowden, Joe Cator, Jake Connor, Chris Satae
Hull FC Tries: Kelly, Ma’u, Shaul
Hull FC Goals: Sneyd (3/3)
Salford: Niall Evalds, Ken Sio, Kris Welham, Dan Sarginson, Rhys Williams, Tui Lolohea, Chris Atkin, Lee Mossop, Joey Lussick, Sebastine Ikahihifo, Ryan Lannon, Tyrone McCarthy, Luke Yates
Salford Interchanges: Mark Flanagan, Josh Johnson, Elliot Kear, Pauli Pauli
Salford Tries: Sio (2), Lolohea (2), Williams (2), Atkin, Yates, Welham, Evalds.
Salford Goals: Lolohea (7/10)