Little-fancied Salford are confirmed as the nearest challengers to surprise Betfred Super League leaders Castleford after blitzing Hull 54-18 at the KCOM Stadium.
The Red Devils ran in 10 tries, seven of them in a near-faultless first half, to cruise to a fourth successive win that lifts them up to second place in the table.
Yet there was little hint of the devastation to come as Hull, led by Australian forward Mark Minichiello, made a bright start and raced into an 8-0 lead inside eight minutes. Winger Steve Michaels grabbed the first try of the game after Mahe Fonua palmed down a kick from Marc Sneyd, who added the conversion and kicked a penalty – but from then on it was largely one-way traffic up to half-time.
Stand-off Robert Lui sparked the rout, jinking his way through a leaden-footed defence on 11 minutes before helping spread the ball wide for winger Greg Johnson to score the first of his two tries.
Then Salford sub’ Craig Kopczak crashed over for two tries in five minutes and Junior Sa’u went over at the corner as the visitors extended their lead.
Sneyd was sin-binned six minutes before half-time for a professional foul and Salford twice made the extra man count by creating the space for both Johnson and Justin Carney to add to their growing try tally.
Trailing 34-8 at the break, Hull were still down to 12 men when full-back Jamie Shaul opened the scoring in the second half and hopes flickered when Michaels then gathered Jake Connor’s kick to the corner to notch his second.
But the fightback was short-lived as Devils skipper Michael Dobson went over – despite Justin Carney being in the sin bin – before Shaul saw yellow on 67 minutes.
That enabled Gareth O’Brien to stretch his side’s lead with a penalty and impressive Salford turned the screw in the closing stages, with further tries through forwards George Griffin and Ben Murdoch-Masila.
Hull: Shaul, Fonua, Griffin, Talanoa, Sneyd, Watts, Minichiello, Connor, Thompson, Washbrook, Michaels, Manu, Bowden. Subs: Litten, Green, Turgut, Fash.
Salford: O’Brien, J. Carney, Sa’u, Welham, Johnson, Lui, Dobson, Mossop, Tomkins, Tasi, Murdoch-Masila, Jones, Flanagan. Subs: Kopczak, Griffin, Walne, T. Carney.
Referee: Gareth Hewer (RFL)