Bridge too far for KR

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The Independent Online
Salford 36 Hull Kingston Rovers 16

Hull Kingston Rovers' failure to bridge the gap between the First and Second Divisions in the opening and closing stages ensured that it will be Salford making the journey to Old Trafford on Sunday, writes Dave Hadfield.

The Second Division champions were undone by a first 15 minutes, during which Salford showed the sort of form that has won them promotion to Super League. Their New Zealsnd loose forward, Sam Panapa, who was playing his last game at The Willows before retirement, was the key man, scoring one try and setting up two others as Salford raced into a 16-0 lead.

At that point, the difference between the two sides looked potentially embarrassing, but Rovers deserved credit for their fightback in the middle of the game.

Immediately after Darren Rogers had what would have been the fourth Salford try disallowed, Mike Fletcher kicked ahead and Kieran Allen reached the ball to touchdown.

Salford stretched their lead after the break with Mark Lee's first try and two goals from Steve Blakeley, but Rovers caused a flutter of concern with quick tries from Paul Rouse and Rob D'Arcy.

With Sam Stewart and the Papua New Guinea scrumhalf, Stanley Gene, orchestrating their attacks, a major upset looked possible until Salford reasserted their status with tries from Nathan McAvoy and Lee in the last ten minutes.

Salford: Hampson; Rogers, McAvoy; Naylor, Sini, Blakeley, Lee; Blease, Edwards, Eccles, Savelio, Forber, Panata. Substitutes used: Watson, Martin, Burgess, Randall.

Hull Kingston Rovers: M Fletcher; Goldborne, Atkins; D'Arcy, Rouse, Allen, Gene; Dammatt, Hoe, Hardy, Wilson, P Fletcher, Stewart. Substitutes used: Crane, Hutchinson, O'Brien, Charles.

Referee: R Smith (Castleford).