Salford Red Devils 4 Hull FC 35: Jake Connor shines as Hull's winning start continues

UNFORTUNATELY, for Salford Red Devils at least, Jake Connor was in the mood for this game straight from the off.

Hull FC's Josh Reynolds goes over for the first of his two tries after Jake Connor's break (ALLAN MCKENZIE/SWPIX)

Whether nonchalantly returning kicks with the ball in one hand, or claiming high balls and flicking out a pass to his winger Adam Swfit, the Hull FC full-back was looking the part before he even made his real incisive cuts.

When he did step up at the other end, his opponents had no answer.

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Connor, who had excelled in the opening day win over Huddersfield Giants, produced his first try assist in the 21st minute.

He came into the line wide right and delayed his pass perfectly to create space for Andre Savelio to surge through untouched.

Towards the end of the half, Connor was a little further out when he glided into space himself down the same channel, Salford unable to deal with his acceleration, before he expertly found the supporting Josh Reynolds on his inside shoulder to score.

Hull saw both half-backs, their Australian signing Reynolds and Marc Sneyd, depart the field with knocks in the second period but they were already in command by that point and had the assured Connor to guide them home.

He has been left out of all of Shaun Wane’s various England squads since his appointment as national head coach 16 months ago.

Hull FC's Jake Connor directs (ED SYKES/SWPIX)

However, if the 26-year-old carries on in this vein, there will be no way he will not be involved in the World Cup in the autumn. Indeed, Connor should be included on Tuesday when Wane picks a squad for his first actual training session the following week.

Granted, England are not sure of full-back options - Sam Tomkins, Zak Hardaker, Stefan Ratchford and Niall Evalds to name three - but, having represented club and country at centre and stand-off, Connor’s switch to No1 in 2021 looks the perfect fit.

Hull, with Danny Houghton, Jordan Lane and Joe Cator excelling once more up front, made it two wins from two outings under new head coach Brett Hodgson but will perhaps feel they should have won by more.

They failed to score when Salford were reduced to 12 men following Ryan Lannon’s cheap, late shot into the back of Marc Sneyd after the Hull scrum-half had long since passed the ball in the 25th minute.

Hull FC's Josh Griffin gets over for a try. (Ed Sykes/SWpix.com)

Ex-Hull KR forward Lannon will surely face more action from the disciplinary panel this week with the sort of totally unnecessary and dangerous challenge that needs to be eradicated from the sport.

Sneyd recovered sufficiently to kick the two points but his side were profligate in the first period, second-row Manu Ma’u twice wasting chances with poor passes.

Salford actually posed most threat when down to 12 men, Houghton and Savelio forced into try-saving tackles and Tui Lolohea becoming increasingly dangerous at stand-off.

However, as is becoming increasingly obvious under Hodgson’s command, Hull are sharpening up in defence and keeping their line intact at 14-0 to set them up handily for the second period.

Reynolds duly added his second try just five minutes into it, latching on to a Sneyd chip between the posts, just as he had done for a debut score against Huddersfield.

Josh Griffin added another soon after when Swift advanced down the left flank and chipped infield.

Reynolds came off in the 50th minute, nursing an injury which did not appear too serious, but Connor remained at No1, Carlos Tuimavave switching to stand-off when Cameron Scott came on at centre.

Swift made a great tackle on Ken Sio after the Salford winger was put clear by Kallum Watkins, Connor showing his defensive awareness to be on hand to clear up Kevin Brown’s threatening kick at the next play.

Sio did get across in the 57th minute but it did not prompt any sort of resurgence.

With the tireless Hougton expertly filling in for Sneyd in the halves, Connor slotted a penalty and a drop-goal for good measure, too, before Cator produced a fine pass out of dummy-half for Scott to crash over in the 76th minute.

Connor improved to complete an impressive 100 per cent winning start for the East Yorkshire club who head to Championship club Featherstone Rovers in the Challenge Cup in a week’s time.

Salford Red Devils: Sarginson; Sio, Watkins, Kear, Williams; Lolohea, Brown; Mossop, Ackers, Ikahihifo, Livett, Lannon, Taylor. Substitutes: Johnson, Wells, Ormondroyd, Patton.

Hull FC: Connor; Fonua, Tuimavave, Griffin, Swift; Reynolds, Sneyd; Sao, Houghton, Satave, Savelio, Ma’u, Lane. Substitutes: Cator, Fash, Scott, Taylor.

Referee: Chris Kendall (Huddersfield)

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