Robert Lui pulled the strings as Salford earned a crucial 28-10 win over Hull KR in their Super 8s Qualifiers opener.
In a repeat of the 2016 Million Pound Game which Salford snatched in a dramatic finale, the tension was palpable as the Super League rivals dared not lose.
The Red Devils held a 6-4 half-time lead after Niall Evalds’s try was cancelled out by Craig Hall.
Jackson Hastings extended Salford’s advantage from a penalty and Lui’s length-of-the-field effort left the visitors in full control.
Debutant Joey Lussick and Josh Wood scored to make sure of the result and despite Shaun Lunt’s late try, Hull KR – the Qualifiers’ only ever-present side since its inception in 2015 – are already in deep trouble.
Ed Chamberlain had a successful shot at goal and it got better for the Red Devils when Wood put Mark Flanagan through a gap and Evalds finished out wide. Rovers started to ask questions of the Salford defence as half-time approached and, after James Donaldson had knocked on going for the line, Adam Quinlan brushed off a high tackle from Junior Sa’u to find winger Hall with a well-weighted kick.
Tickle missed the chance to level the scores as Hastings kicked a Salford penalty.
The home team threatened to pull level after working their way into perfect field position only for Lui to come up with a match-clinching moment as he read Tickle’s pass and went 90 metres, before Lussick sealed their fate when he went over from dummy-half on the last tackle.
Lunt spotted a hole in Salford’s line to score but Wood strolled in to complete the Robins’ misery.
Hull K R: Quinlan, Oakes, Crooks, Vaivai, Hall, T. Carney, McGuire, Scruton, Lunt, Mulhern, Tickle, Tomkins, Clarkson. Substitutes: Greenwood, Kavanagh, Donaldson, Atkin.
Salford: Evalds, Bibby, Chamberlain, Sa’u, Olpherts, Lui, Hastings, Mossop, Wood, Murray, Jones, McCarthy, Lannon. Substitutes: Lussick, Flanagan, Tasi, Nakubuwai.
Referee: Robert Hicks (RFL).