Rovers sail past Salford on Sky - fans now excited for Hull Derby at the start of July
Above: Jordan Abdull was the man of the match last night for Hull KR
(Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Despite going 0-4 down in the early stages to a Ken Sio try, Hull Kingston Rovers scored 40 unanswered points on Friday night as they demolished the Salford Red Devils at Craven Park.

George Lawler and Ben Crooks put Rovers 10-4 up whilst Chris Atkin was son-binned for stripping the ball illegally before Brad Takairangi produced a moment of brilliance to run onto his own kick and score under the posts to make it 16-4 at half time.

Rovers fans have often had cause to worry over the past couple of seasons of their team’s second half performances, but there was no chance of them throwing this way. Adam Quinlan was harshly sin binned but tries from Sean Kenny-Dowell, Matt Parcell, Ryan Hall and Kane Linnett saw the Robins score 40 points. 

To add insult to injury, Salford’s Pauli Pauli was sent off after a late hit on Jordan Abdull that ironically set up the last try for Linnett. 

  • What has changed at Rovers?

Improved defense 

Last season was a very difficult campaign for the Robins, and with Toronto Wolfpack’s demise from the league in 2020 KR ended up finishing bottom.

This season, however, they are proving to be a real surprise package. Fast, entertaining Rugby has won them many plaudits this season, and usually that comes with the caveat that they will concede a high number of points too. 

That seems to be changing, however. 

Tony Smith was quick to point out the work of former Robin Stanley Gene on the defensive side of the game over their week off. 

I need to commend our defense tonight. We went down to 12 men for ten minutes and we didn’t concede,” said Smith after the game.

The defense was always going to be a big focus going into the game. I’m going to make a special mention to our coaching staff - particularly Stanley Gene - has worked really hard with boys over the past 12 days to improve our defense, and it’s really paid off tonight”. 

Big signings performing

There is a risk with signing any player, but Rovers always seemed to have chosen the players who don’t quite fit the system, never lived up to expectations or were plagued by injury. 

This season, players like Ryan Hall - seen by many to be a risk - have hit the ground running. He scored his 11th try of the season against the Red Devils and there are fewer in better form in Super League.

Players like Sean Kenny-Dowell, Brad Takairangi and Korbin Sims are starting to show their best form and Rovers fans are acting as the fourteenth man as Craven Park always does. The fans can see the improvement, desire and commitment from the squad - and they back them with a vociferous and clamorous vocal support. 

Sense of community after COVID

Always having the unwanted label of the “smaller” Hull rugby league club, the Rovers faithful have - as their saying goes - rallied round the Robins in the 2021 season. The lack of Rugby in the area has led to many desperately wanting a return to live sport, and many continued to pay their season pass fees despite not being able to go watch since March 2020.

Despite Covid regulations not allowing a full capacity, it has certainly started to sound like a ground that is packed to the rafters. This will be important for when the Hull Derby is played in three weeks time. 

  • The biggest game in Super League?

The pundits at Sky Sports won’t agree with this, but forget Saint Helens vs Wigan. Hull KR vs Hull FC is the biggest game in Super League, with the City divided on Derby Day - the first of which is July 1st. 

Both Hull clubs have had excellent starts to the season, with key players performing well so far. 

The passion shown so far by both sides in their matches already played suggests we are in for a treat. 

KR have two tough games coming up, as they play Wigan and then Saint Helens before FC make the short trip across the City at the start of July. 

One thing is for sure - this will be a feisty affair.  Players like Sims will be wanting to wind up the opposition and get under FC’s skin, with the black and white’s ill discipline already demonstrated this season. 

I for one can’t wait for Derby day with fans to be back after a long, long wait.