Danny Williams’ two tries banished the ghost of Matty Smith and kept Salford City Reds’ playoff hopes alive.
Reds held on 24-22 against Hull KR in Sunday afternoon’s topsy-turvy contest at Craven Park.
The win keeps them in touch with eighth place Hull FC and in the hunt for post-season football this season.
Sunday’s clash was Reds’ first without star halfback Smith, who signed for table-topping Wigan Warriors on Friday, but the away side showed no early signs of missing him with a try after just 64 seconds.
Standoff Daniel Holdsworth, man of the match in Wednesday’s International Origin clash, put up a devilish bomb which Robins’ Sam Latus failed to deal with.
Joel Moon, who also played on Wednesday, capitalised and fed winger Jodie Broughton for the opening score.
Reds were 10-0 up shortly after when lynchpin Holdsworth fired a bulleted cut-out pass to Williams with the winger touching down.
Smith’s replacement Marc Sneyd was penalised for a high shot and KR capitalised with forward Constantine Mika powering over to reduce the home side’s arrears.
Scrumhalf Michael Dobson knocked over the conversion before slipping Blake Green in for Rovers’ second try – the Australian’s goal giving his side the lead for the first time.
Salford hit back four minutes later when returning second rower Ben Gledhill stretched over from close-range to give the Reds the lead at the interval.
Hull KR started the second period the brighter and retook the lead when Craig Hall was put in by Dobson but Reds responded with two tries in three minutes.
Williams grabbed his second before the winger was again involved when he managed to keep the ball in play and Moon took advantage from the offload to score what proved to be the match-winner.
Rovers’ star man Dobson gave the home side a chance by sliding over in the corner to bring them within two points but the Australian failed to convert from out wide.
Liam Salter had the chance to be the hero late on but couldn’t gather Dobson’s clever kick leaving the Reds fans to travel home happy dreaming of the playoffs.
Head coach Phil Veivers was grateful for the two points which closed the gap on Rovers, even if was not the most free-flowing of matches.
“It was an ugly game with so many knock ons,” he said. “And when it wasn't a knock on it was the referee calling a forward pass.
“We made a lot more tack than they did and we hung in there,” he added. “There were some outstanding contributions with Stephen Wildimmense in defence.”
Reds continue their playoff push in a fortnight looking for three wins on the bounce against the lowly Widnes Vikings.