Bridge too far for KR
Dave Hadfield was a schoolboy convert to rugby league, the game which, one way or another, has dominated his life ever since. After working for newspapers in Shropshire and Blackpool (where he covered the fortunes of Blackpool Borough) he travelled the world, working mainly in Hong Kong and Sydney. He became The Independent's rugby league man in 1990 and has written five books on the game and broadcast extensively for Sky and the BBC. Dave played his last game at the age of 53 and would have set up a try if anyone could have been bothered supporting his break. When not writing about the sport, he now limits himself to a bit of tick and pass with his local club, the Bolton Mets. Family includes supporters - of varying degrees of dedication - of Salford, Wigan, Sheffield Eagles and St George Illawarra.
Monday 02 September 1996
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).
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