Hull KR 10-28 Salford Red Devils: Salford start on right note
Last Updated: 10/08/18 11:27pm
Robert Lui pulled the strings as Salford earned a crucial 28-10 win over Hull KR in their Super 8s Qualifiers opener.
In a repeat of the 2016 Million Pound Game which Salford snatched in a dramatic finale, the tension was palpable as the Super League rivals dared not lose on Friday night.
The Red Devils held a slender 6-4 half-time lead after Niall Evalds' opener was cancelled out by Craig Hall, his third try in only his second game since returning to Rovers.
Jackson Hastings extended Salford's advantage from a penalty and Lui's length-of-the-field effort left the visitors in full control.
Debutant Joey Lussick and Josh Wood scored to make sure of the result and despite Shaun Lunt's late try, Hull KR - the Qualifiers' only ever-present side since its inception in 2015 - are already in deep trouble.
London's shock victory at Widnes on Thursday night underlined the importance of getting off to a good start and it was a cautious opening at KCOM Craven Park as the teams went set for set.
Salford back-rower Ryan Lannon was the first player to see open field in front of him after bumping off Danny Tickle's attempted tackle.
The Red Devils earned a penalty on the back of Lannon's break but nerves were evident when Ed Chamberlain missed a straightforward kick.
After a period littered with errors, Lui injected some quality into the match when he first raced clear to take Salford deep into Hull KR's half and then earned a repeat set with a deft kick.
Chamberlain had a successful shot at goal after Rovers were penalised for holding down and it got better for the Red Devils when Wood put Mark Flanagan through a gap and Evalds finished out wide.
The Robins were relieved to see Chamberlain put his conversion attempt wide and at 6-0 were right in the game despite a poor opening quarter.
Rovers started to ask questions of the Salford defence as half-time approached and, after James Donaldson had knocked on going for the line, they finally got on the board on 32 minutes.
Adam Quinlan brushed off a high tackle from Junior Sa'u and composed himself to find winger Hall with a well-weighted kick.
Tickle missed the chance to level the scores and Hull KR were fortunate to go into the break just two points behind after Jake Bibby had a try ruled out for a forward pass.
A half-time downpour only added to the tension and it was no surprise when Salford took the two points on offer after Rovers were penalised at the ruck, Hastings making no mistake after taking on the kicking duties.
The home team threatened to pull level after working their way into perfect field position only for Lui to come up with a match-clinching moment as he read Tickle's pass and went 90 metres.
Rovers threatened a comeback - Junior Vaivai denied by good scrambling defence - but Lussick sealed their fate when he went over from dummy-half on the last tackle.
Lunt spotted a hole in Salford's line to score but Wood strolled in to complete the Robins' misery.