SALFORD Red Devils took another step closer to possible relegation as they lost to Hull KR 12-29 at the AJ Bell stadium.
Given both clubs were hoping to bounce back after defeats in the second round of the Qualifiers, this was a bitter pill for Salford who frankly didn’t look at the races all night.
Error after error from the home side allowed Rovers to dominate field position and the scoreboard, when after only three minutes the visitors went ahead thanks to a Josh Mantellato try and conversion, and then again after 10 minutes from James Greenwood; Mantellato again adding the extras.
Yet more errors from the home side allowed Rovers to kick a penalty after the quarter hour to further extend the lead to 14 points.
Then, after 20 minutes, Mason Caton-Brown went over for his eighth try in the last five games, and with Gareth O’Brien missing the conversion, Rovers went up the other end and another penalty allowed them to extend the lead to 16-4 after 25 minutes.
— Salford Red Devils (@SalfordDevils) August 19, 2016
Then another try from the visitors from East Yorkshire, this time from Ken Sio, Mantellato again accurate with the boot, and Salford players were looking shell-shocked as they shook their heads in disbelief.
Just after the half hour mark, Greg Johnson was bundled into touch, and Salford fans themselves were beginning to wonder if they might not have been better off staying home to watch the Manchester United game.
As the hooter sounded, referee Robert Hicks gave Salford a rare penalty, which O’Brien slotted over to leave the home side trailing 22-6.
Things didn’t improve in the second half, as Johnson knocked on from the start, gifting Hull a scrum on the Salford 10m line.
For once, they didn’t seem able to cross the line.
Salford were able to score again, O’Brien just after the 50-minute mark, adding the extras himself.
12-22 looked healthier for the home side, but it was to be a false dawn for the home fans.
Rovers scored again, this time another penalty from Mantellato, after Salford failed to clear the ruck, and it became two converted tries required for Salford to draw.
Then after 62 minutes, Rovers forced another drop out, and then Albert Kelly placed a drop goal in front of the home fans who were already beginning to leave to make it 12-25.
With just three minutes left on the clock, Rovers were over again, this time Thomas Minns, but Mantellato was unable to add the two points, and the game finished 12-29.
On this showing, not only would Salford find themselves in the so called “Million Pound” game, but they would lose it.
Head coach Ian Watson was once again left to mourn a poor performance from his side.
“It was error after error and with our poor completion rate we had no chance of winning the game,” he said, brimming with frustration.
“We have got to get together as a group and reassess, but it is going to be difficult avoiding the fourth v fifth play-off (Million Pound) match now.
Salford Red Devils look like they have booked a one way ticket to the Million Pound Game on 1st October pic.twitter.com/OAEL8vw5bX
— Balls & Beer (@ballsnbeer) August 19, 2016
“Going to Leeds next is the be all and end all and we have to win. Super League has been and gone. We did a decent job there but this is a different competition.
“We don’t seem to be focused on how serious a competition this is, players’ careers are at stake.”
He also confirmed to Quays News that flying winger Mason Caton-Brown is leaving for Wakefield Trinity.
“Mase has been superb for us, but he like us all has to think of his future,” he admitted.
“We can’t guarantee Super League next season, and fair play, Mason has given us everything we’ve asked and more since he let us know.”
Caton-Brown could have well played his final game for the club, as he left the game early in the second half with a suspected rib cartilage injury which would see him miss the rest of the season.
Gareth O’Brien, Greg Johnson, Josh Griffin, Junior Sa’u, Mason Caton-Brown, Robert Lui, Michael Dobson, Luke Burgess, Logan Tomkins, George Griffin, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Josh Jones, Mark Flanagan, Weller Hauraki, Feliti Mateo, Sean Kenny, Craig Kopczak.
Referee: Mr Robert Hicks (RFL)
By Andrew Riley