Hull FC caretaker coach Andy Last has waited five months to take charge of his hometown club in an actual match and he must have thought about what that moment would feel like every day throughout that long spell.
In the end, though, the experience was a huge anti-climax as the Black and Whites suffered a humiliating defeat, worryingly underpinned by many of the same mistakes that cost predecessor Lee Radford his job.
Last, of course, was promoted from assistant to caretaker chief when Radford was sacked following their last fixture before lockdown, an utterly awful 38-4 home defeat to Warrington Wolves.
On their return, with this sobering 54-18 defeat to an excellent Salford Red Devils side, he was handed an instant lesson in the harsh realities of life at the top.
Although Hull were arguably not quite as bad yesterday as against Wolves, there were plenty of the similar basic errors which left Last with plenty to ponder.
“I’m really, really disappointed with the manner of our performance,” he conceded.
“We robbed ourselves of energy in that first half making errors out of yardage and then we compounded it by not being able to bend our back and defend those errors.
“We gave a really poor example of how to play the game (under the new rules).
“When you make really basic errors in those areas it gives them field position and you have to do more defending but we weren’t able to defend with the type of steel that you need to when turning the ball over.
“There’s a lot of things we need to improve on. I’m sure the boys will be hurting; they are an honest bunch.
“We have to go back to the drawing board, get our heads down, have a look at it on the video, review it harshly and look forward to next week against Castleford.”
Albert Kelly – preferred to Great Britain’s Jake Connor at stand-off – actually gave Hull an early lead at Emerald Headingley following a scruffy grubber but they were 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 those Hull handling errors.
Lolohea’s fine long cut-out pass sent former Hull KR winger Ken Sio in for the first of their 10 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 Salford, Hull’s Mahe Fonua infuriatingly dropped it on the next play to hand possession straight back.
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 just 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, 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, 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.
Referee: Liam Moore (Leeds).
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