It might have been a season of false starts for Hull Kingston Rovers, but they are safely in the last eight of the Challenge Cup, a competition which they and their neighbours once made something of a local speciality.
The Willie Mason fiasco and a series of injuries to key men meant that their league campaign has never truly got going. After weathering early Salford pressure at The Willows last night, however, they were up for the cup and they will not be anyone's idea of perfect opponents in the quarter-finals.
Salford had the better of the early exchanges, especially when Stefan Ratchford was involved. The two best chances were foiled by Shaun Briscoe's typically sound tackle and by the referee's ruling that Ratchford's flick-pass had gone forward.
Slowly signs emerged that Rovers were coming into the game. Jake Webster had a try disallowed for a forward pass from Blake Green and as a score-less first half loomed Joel Clinton was held up over the try-line.
With two minutes to the break Green got over, with his half-back partner, Michael Dobson, adding the goal. Rovers struck again after the interval, Dobson and the outstanding Ben Galea opening up Salford down their right flank for Ben Cockayne to score.
The prolific Kris Welham effectively took the match beyond recall in the 52nd minute. Vinnie Anderson had another disallowed for a Salford forward pass as they tried in vain to translate all their possession into points. Instead, the remaining footnote came from Dobson's drop-goal and conversion of Webster's try.
All that remains for them is to identify a new coach to take them into their new stadium next year, in the hope that it will bring them more joy than their old one.
"I'll take that defensive display any day of the week, because that's what won us the match," said Rovers' coach, Justin Morgan, but for Salford's caretaker Phil Veivers it was a tale of missed opportunities.
"We had three or four in the first half and if we'd taken them it could have been a different story," he said.
Lee Briers, meanwhile, scored a club record 44 points in Warrington's 120-0 win over Swinton.
Salford: Patten; Clay, Gleeson, Ratchford, Broughton; Smith, Holdsworth; Cashmere, Sneyd, Boyle, Nero, Adamson, Wild.
Subs used: Jewitt, Neal, Palea'aesina, Anderson.
Hull KR: Briscoe; Fox, Welham, Webster, Cockayne; Green, Dobson; Vella, Hodgson, Wheeldon, Lovegrove, Galea, Murrell.
Subs used: Fisher, Cook, Clinton, Netherton.
Referee: T. Alibert (France).Reuse content