Salford Red Devils 54 Hull FC 18: Nightmare start for Andy Last as Airlie Birds thrashed

THERE was no dream start to Andy Last’s reign as Hull FC head coach as his vanquished side fell to a heavy defeat, worryingly underpinned by many of the same mistakes that cost predecessor Lee Radford his job.

Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com - 09/08/2020 - Rugby League - Betfred Super League - Salford Red Devils v Hull FC - Emerald Headingley Stadium, Leeds, England - Hull FC's Josh Jones can't prevent Salford's Tui Lolohea from scoring a try.

Hull-born Last has had to wait five months to take control of a match having been promoted from assistant to caretaker chief when Radford was sacked following their last fixture before lockdown.

The Black and Whites were embarrassingly abysmal in the 38-4 loss to Warrington Wolves that March night and, though they were arguably not quite as bad against Salford Red Devils on their return today, there were plenty of the similar basic errors.

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Albert Kelly - preferred to Great Britain’s Jake Connor at stand-off - gave the East Yorkshire club an early lead at Emerald Headingley following a scruffy grubber but they were then 22-6 behind after just 30 minutes.

Much of the damage came as Salford - with classy former Leeds Rhinos stand-off Tui Lolohea wonderfully to the fore - ruthlessly capitalised on Hull handling errors and, though Last’s side did keep toiling away, they ended up being left with far too much to do.

Lolohea’s fine long cut-out pass sent former Hull KR winger Ken Sio in for the first of their ten tries and, after Marc Sneyd made an embarrassing fumble, it was the Tonga star who went in himself, straightening up to force his way through the rooted Josh Jones and Ligi Sao.

Admittedly, Manu Ma’u’s offload was only marginally forward as he tried setting Kelly clear but it still gave beaten Grand Finalists Salford the position to strike again when Lolohea latched onto Sio’s infield kick and added the third of his seven goals.

Even when Luke Yates made a rare handling mistake for the excellent Salford, Hull’s Mahe Fonua infuriatingly dropped it on the next play to hand possession straight back.

Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com - 09/08/2020 - Rugby League - Betfred Super League - Salford Red Devils v Hull FC - Emerald Headingley Stadium, Leeds, England - Hull FC's Albert Kelly is tackled by Salford's Joey Lussick and Pauli Pauli.

Granted, Josh Johnson was lucky not to be penalised for a shoulder charge in the tackle but Hull’s ball control was simply far too slack all afternoon.

That, too, led to another try as Rhys Williams tip-toed in for the first of his brace.

For all their ailments, FC still had a sniff when Niall Evalds spilled a high kick and Ma’u was able to force his way over from close range for Sneyd to convert and leave them trailing 22-12 at the break.

Nevertheless, things soon turned bleak again when - with Hull in prime attacking position - ex-Hull KR half-back Chris Atkin crucially intercepted Kelly’s pass and raced in from 95m.

Connor came on essentially operating at loose forward with a licence to pop up wherever he could.

He did pep things up initially, setting Carlos Tuimavave free for Jamie Shaul to score but then Connor and Shaul bizarrely let another Lolohea chip bounce and Luke Yates pounced.

Hull winger Ratu Naulago was also needlessly sin-binned for kicking a ball away in the 63rd minute with Atkin sliding in a grubber for Williams to get his second when they were down to 12.

Kris Welham benefitted from another pinpoint Lolohea kick before the stand-off - transformed at Salford last year after a miserable spell with Rhinos - delivered another stunning cut-out pass for Sio to cross again, Evalds completing the rout in the 80th minute.

Salford Red Devils: Evalds; Sio, Wleham, Sarginson, Williams; Lolohea, Atkin; Mossop, Lussick, Ikahihifo, Lannon, McCarthy, Yates. Substitutes: Pauli, Johnson, Flanagan, Kear.

Hull FC: Shaul; Naulago, Tuimavave, Griffin, Fonua; Kelly, Sneyd; Ellis, Houghton, Ligi, Jones, Ma'u, Savellio. Substitutes: Connor, Satae, Bowden, Cator.

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