A play-off place was at stake at Craven Park as Hull KR took on the Salford Red Devils in a Saturday evening fixture, the ultimate game of the penultimate round of Super League in 2023 with both sides desperate for the crucial two points which would make their chances of a play-off berth a lot more likely.
A win for Hull KR would guarantee that they couldn’t finish the season any lower than fifth place, but a win for the Red Devils would see them move two points ahead of seventh placed Warrington Wolves and in full control of their own destiny when they face the Catalans Dragons in the final game of the season next Friday.
A loss for Salford would mean that they are in all sorts of trouble, especially as their challengers for sixth spot, Warrington, play Huddersfield Giants next week.
It had been an end-to-end opening, neither side was going to die wondering what could have been. When Shaun Kenny-Dowall broke the line of five minutes he looked certain to score but passed to Brad Schneider who put the ball to ground with the line begging.
It was frantic, from both teams, and the panic to score was resulting in errors from both sides forced by excellent defensive efforts.
The opening points took twenty-one minutes and a great flowing move from Hull KR with James Batchelor taking the final pass after a great Schneider offload. Schneider added the conversion for a 6-0 lead on what was likely to be a very nervous night for both sets of players and supporters.
The Robins had a try ruled out on twenty-seven after Kenny-Dowall knocked on in the build-up when jumping to take a high kick.
The Salford defence did brilliantly to deny Mikey Lewis on thirty-six after he wriggled free of two tackles and broke downfield before being hauled down by Ryan Brierley and Kallum Watkins.
When King Vuniyayawa hit Jack Walker without the ball on thirty-eight in mid field, he was shown yellow by referee Liam Moore, Salford now needing to defend for ten minutes with twelve men.
Salford survived their ten minutes with a man down without conceding but KR went close on fifty-three when Matt Parcell reached for the line, but Brodie Croft did enough to dislodge the ball from his grasp as he went for the try.
As the game headed for the hour mark there was just the one converted try between the two sides.
On sixty-two, a high tackle from Oliver Partington on Lewis gifted KR a penalty from twenty-five metres out, Schneider kicking the two points to give Rovers some breathing space.
A last-ditch tackle from Brierley prevented Lewis from grounding on the left corner on sixty-seven, a try which would have put the outcome beyond any doubt.
The result was put beyond any doubt on seventy-two when Ryan Hall pinned back his ears and ran for twenty-five metres down the left wing to dive over in the corner. Schneider was unable to kick the conversion from the touchline, KR twelve points ahead, a lead that they carried to the full time hooter.
Hull KR are now confirmed in the play-offs, but Salford need a small miracle to make it into the top six next Friday when the will need to either record a massive points difference win over the Catalans Dragons, or hope that they can get a narrow win, and that Huddersfield do them a favour by beating the Warrington Wolves.
Hull KR: Walker, Senior, Opacic, Kenny-Dowall, Hall (T), Lewis, Schneider (2G), Hadley, Parcell, King, Batchelor (T), Linnett, Minchella. Subs: Abdull, Kennedy, Sue, Luckley. 18th Man: Storton.
Salford Red Devils: Brierley, Sio, Cross, Lafai, Burgess, Croft, Sneyd, Hellewell, Ackers, Ormondroyd, Watkins, Stone, Partington. Subs: Vuniyayawa (SB on 38), Atkin, Addy, Bourouh. 18th Man: Dixon.
Score Progression: 4-0, 6-0, (SB) : HT: 8-0, 12-0 :FT.
Lead Exchanges: Hull KR.
Referee: Liam Moore.