Salford 35 Hull FC 22: Profligate Hull see play-off hopes take big blow

Hull FC's Kirk Yeaman tries to pass Salford's Junior Sau
Hull FC's Kirk Yeaman tries to pass Salford's Junior Sau
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THE air of resignation in Kirk Yeaman’s voice said it all.

“It’s just stupid errors that’s costing us; we’re finding ways to lose, not ways to win,” bemoaned the Hull FC centre.

It is a familiar narrative that could have been uttered by any Airlie Birds player in any year for the last decade.

But for Yeaman, who has been with his home-town club throughout that period, it had to be all the more galling... and tiring.

Hull were at it again on Saturday night, throwing away yet another fixture which they had every opportunity to grab hold of.

The problem is, unless they start creating some chances with their ample possession, they will always end up with these sorts of irritating results.

Granted, they scored four tries but they all came in the second half after Salford – who now draw level with them in 11th spot – had already built a 19-0 lead.

Profligate Hull, bereft of any ideas or the requisite control needed at this level, failed to break down the home side in a pointless first period despite having plenty of opportunities and it cost them dearly once more.

Leon Pryce and Marc Sneyd may be arriving for 2015 but, in the meantime, the East Yorkshire club’s lack of potent play-makers looks certain to ruin any hopes of making the top eight.

Another year of under-achievement, therefore, beckons.

If anything, Saturday’s hosts look more likely of plotting a late surge, having followed up an impressive win at Huddersfield with this display which showed – admittedly still only in periods – just what Iestyn Harris is trying to achieve at the AJ Stadium.

They did it all, too, without Kiwi superstar Kevin Locke, the debutant who had run riot a week earlier but was deemed unfit.

Instead, it was a less likely figure who proved so instrumental – Josh Griffin.

The unheralded winger left Castleford Tigers in 2012 to try his luck with Leeds Carnegie. He fared okay but was still allowed to join Batley Bulldogs in the Championship this season.

However, amid all the glittering signings, the 24-year-old turned up at Salford last month and, on his home debut, played like an international, scoring a try, kicking four goals but, more importantly, contributing a couple of crucial try-saving tackles to deny Tom Lineham as well.

Mason Caton-Brown, the prodigious young centre recently recruited from London Broncos, also showed prowess to score in each half, while Rangi Chase, playing behind a belligerent pack – former Batley second-row Jason Walton delivered some thunderous hits – directed expertly.

It was his intuitive intercept of Liam Watts’s offload that initially broke Hull, scampering over from 80m for the game’s first try in the 16th minute.

Caton-Brown then went in off Chase’s pass, Griffin added a conversion and penalty before Chase’s drop goal after the hooter made it 13-0.

When Griffin converted his try in the 51st minute, with Hull’s Jordan Rankin in the sin-bin for a professional foul following some woeful defence from colleagues, the visitors looked buried.

However, tries from Dean Hadley and Yeaman in quick succession, Rankin improving the latter, offered hope at 19-10.

Strangely, that is something Hull fans eternally have. Hope.

It was shattered again, though, when Lineham was denied by Griffin’s desperation and, instead, Niall Evalds – a fine understudy for Locke – sent Greg Johnson over.

Darrell Griffin, another player revitalised under Harris, seemed to have made sure in the 70th minute but still the visitors toyed with their fans’ emotions as Yeaman and Jamie Shaul scored tries in quick succession to leave it hanging at 29-22.

They pushed once more but it ended in an error and Caton-Brown accepted the gift in the final play, Chase slotting the goal.

“Frustrating is the word,” admitted Yeaman, whose brace saw him draw level with Leeds’ Rob Burrow as the eighth highest try-scorer in Super League history on 148.

“We had a bit of decent possession down in their 20 and just couldn’t make the most of it. Just individual errors are costing us. The effort’s there – we’re really trying hard to the last minute – but you don’t get anything for effort.”

Salford Red Devils: Evalds; Johnson, Sa’u, Caton-Brown, Griffin; Chase, Fages; Morley, Lee, D Griffin, Hansen, Ashurst, Puletua. Substitutes: Rapira, Walton, Hock, J Walne.

Hull FC: Shaul; Lineham, Talanoa, Yeaman, Lancaster; Rankin, Horne; Watts, Houghton, Bowden, Hadley, Sa, Westerman. Substitutes: Heremaia, Green, Palea’aesina, Abdull.

Referee: M Thomason (Manchester).