Hull FC 48 Salford 16: ‘Undefendable’ Connor inspires victory on Sneyd’s return

AS a former No 1 with more than 350 appearances under his belt, coach Brett Hodgson knows all about quality full-back play, but even he was mesmerised by Jake Connor’s contribution to Hull FC’s morale-boosting win over Salford Red Devils.

The pre-match script was all about Salford half-back Marc Sneyd’s return to his former stamping ground, but Connor tore that up with a scintillating display which Hodgson said afterwards was “up there” with the best exhibitions of full-back play he had ever seen.

Returning from a ban imposed after his sending-off in Hull’s Super League round one win at Wakefield Trinity, Connor dominated a surprisingly one-sided encounter, scoring one of Hull’s nine tries and assisting in six others.

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Creative with his passing and kicking, Connor’s performance was, according to Hodgson, “undefendable”, “exceptional” and “phenomenal”.

Hull FC's Jake Connor in action against Salford Red Devils. Pictures: Will Palmer/SWpix.com

The delighted coach might have been forgiven some hyperbole after a 48-16 victory which erased the memory of a heavy home loss to St Helens seven days earlier, but it was hard to argue with his assessment.

As Luke Gale began a five-match suspension, Hull needed somebody to step up and take control of what promised to be a tricky contest.

Connor did that, working off the back of some impressive play by half-backs Josh Reynolds and Ben McNamara behind a very strong Hull pack.

Connor had time and space on the ball and made the most of it, until being rested late on after suffering a neck strain in what his coach described as an accidental ‘crusher-style’ tackle.

Salford's Marc Sneyd after being sin binned. Pictures: Will Palmer/SWpix.com

Salford travelled to East Yorkshire on the back of successive wins and with Sneyd in outstanding form, but the two-time Lance Todd Trophy winner was eclipsed by Connor.

He may have been trying a bit too hard, but little the Reds’ No 7 did paid off and he was taunted by chants of ‘sneeeyd’ from the home crowd every time something went wrong.

He did create one try for Tim Lafai with a towering up and under and booted a couple of conversions, but it wasn’t a happy return.

Six minutes into the second half, with Hull leading 20-6, Sneyd was sin-binned following a challenge on Connor and when he returned, the hosts’ lead had blown out to 30 points and the contest was effectively over.

Hull's Jordan Lane scores a try as Dan Sarginson of Salford Red Devils tackles. Pictures: Will Palmer/SWpix.com

Connor grabbed one of the tries against 12 men, when he dummied over from close range. He created both the others, firstly with a kick and then a pass, for Jordan Lane, who had a powerful game in the second-row.

Lane’s was the second brace of the afternoon, after centre Cameron Scott had scored Hull’s second and third tries. Connor’s delayed pass set up his first and Scott regathered his own kick to cross soon afterwards.

The pass that time came from McNamara, but Connor was also involved before hitting the deck in an incident which was placed on report.

Scott hobbled off in the closing seconds of the half, which was one of the few blots on an otherwise hugely encouraging 80 minutes for Hull.

Darnell McIntosh opened the scoring from a kick by Connor, after the home team had been under pressure for much of the opening 14 minutes.

After Scott’s double, Joe Lovodua stretched over from a pass by, inevitably, Connor for Hull’s fourth touchdown in a devastating 13-minute spell, two of which the full-back converted.

McIntosh took over kicking duties in the second half and made a good job of it, landing four goals from five attempts.

Once Sneyd was back on the field, his half-back partner from last year, Reynolds, ran through and took advantage of a fortunate bounce from his own kick, to grab a deserved score.

Salford were disrupted when they lost James Greenwood to injury late in the warm-up, Ryan Lannon coming into the team at the last minute and, after a positive start, they never found the form shown in wins over Castleford Tigers and Toulouse Olympique.

They did, however, score two of the final three tries, Brodie Croft putting Ken Sio in before his kick was finished by Lafai.

In between those, Connor slipped a pass out of acting half to Chris Satae, who was unstoppable from close to the line, on 
the play after being held up over it.

Hull FC: Connor, McIntosh, Scott, Griffin, Swift, Reynolds, McNamara, Satae, Houghton, Sao, Lovodua, Lane, Fash. Substitutes: Brown, Johnstone, Bowden, Shaul.

Salford Red Devils: Brierley, Sio, Sarginson, Lafai, Burgess, Croft, Sneyd, Vuniyayawa, Ackers, Burke, Wright, Lannon, Taylor. Substitutes: Akauola, Addy, Cross, Gerrard.

Referee: Robert Hicks (Oldham).