Salford battle back to prevent Robins causing Cup upset

Ben Murdoch-Masila barged over for a decisive late try as Salford averted a Ladbrokes Challenge Cup upset with victory over Hull KR.

The Tongan’s 72nd-minute effort was enough for the Red Devils to book their place in the last eight, but they did not have it all their own way with the Kingstone Press Championship side putting in a sterling effort, but ultimately coming up short.

In the first meeting between the sides since the dramatic Million Pound Game last October, Super League Salford trailed 14-6 at the break before springing into action in the second period, fighting off Rovers.

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The hosts started bright enough and had a ‘try’ chalked off early doors by the video official after Kris Welham knocked on Robert Lui’s kick when it looked easier to score.

The video referee was at the centre of the action again minutes later, when Jordan Abdull had fired a kick through which Jake Butler-Fleming could not ground.

Rovers did get one that mattered and it came in style as Shaun Lunt was shown the outside by Salford’s Michael Dobson, and the hooker romped in.

Lunt was at it again in the 23rd minute as he forced his way over from the base of the scrum with the Red Devils caught cold.

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Rovers were well in charge, delivering a very controlled performance to silence the boisterous Devils fans, Jamie Ellis kicking a penalty as Salford were penalised at the ruck.

However, Salford responded three minutes before half-time when Michael Dobson trickled a kick in behind the defenders that Ryan Lannon lapped up.

Salford made an electric start to the second half and Rovers simply could not live with the intensity, Craig Kopczak crashing over from Lui’s short pass.

Dobson’s second conversion left Salford two points behind and they took the lead for the first time in the 52nd minute.

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The Red Devils stacked their right-hand side as they looked to deliver a set move from the scrum, but wily substitute Kriss Brining scooted on the left and scorched over.

The momentum was firmly with Salford and when Lannon was given a short ball, he hit the afterburners to sprint 50 metres, but was hauled down just before the line by Butler-Fleming.

A Dobson penalty soon followed as Butler-Fleming was binned for holding down and at 18-14 the game was on the edge.

Ian Watson threw on Gareth O’Brien, who kicked the winning drop goal in extra time to relegate Rovers, to mix things up in their attack and he laid on the winning score as his kick was latched onto by Murdoch-Masila who finished off a well-worked move.

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Dobson’s conversion put the game well beyond reach at 24-14 with only minutes remaining.

Salford Red Devils: Evalds, Sa’u, Jones, Welham, Johnson, Lui, Dobson, Mossop, Tomkins, Tasi, Murdoch-Masila, Lannon, Krasniqi. Substitutes: Kopczak, Hauraki, Brinning, O’Brien.

Hull KR: Cockayne, Butler-Fleming, Minns, Hefernan, Shaw, Abdull, Ellis, Scruton, Lunt, Johnson, Blair, Greenwood, Kavanagh. Substitutes: Dockar-Clay, Lawler, Mulhern, Salter.

Referee: R Hicks (RFL).