The Salford Red Devils and the Castleford Tigers were both looking to banish the memories of losses last weekend, especially Salford who took a drubbing at the hands of the Leeds Rhinos. Neither side would be able to improve their league position, bar a big points win for Castleford, but this shortened season is all about getting and keeping momentum and both teams needed the win to reverse their fortunes.
Castleford were expected to get the win, but Wigan had been predicted for a big win over Hull KR in the previous game, the bookies can get things wrong.
Salford got the ideal start when Kevin Brown intercepted a Castleford pass on the half way line and pinned back his ears to go to the line and dive over under the sticks. Krisnan Inu added the conversion, in off the far post at speed, for a 6-0 lead.
The second Salford try came on six minutes, Niall Evalds hitting a gap created by the dummying of Brown, and going ten metres to dive over. Inu added the goal for a 12-0 lead, the Tigers still on the bus.
Joey Lussick scooted from dummy half on ten minutes to go under the tackler and get the ball on the line. It was way too eay for the Red Devils, the Tigers having a nightmare as Inu added the extras for 18-0.
Danny Richardson stemmed the tide and got his side back in the game after powering over the top of Evalds to get the ball down after collecting his own grubber kick. The Tigers stand-off added the conversion himself for 6-18.
Michael Shenton got Castleford’s second try, taking a Paul McShane pass and dropping the shoulder to come inside and improve the angle to score neat the left upright. Richardson added the goal to put his side within six of the Red Devils, their early dominance now forgotten.
On twenty-eight Paul McShane scored Castleford’s third unanswered try as they got back on level terms. The hooker somehow managed to get the ball on the line and after consulting the video referee Hicks pointed to the spot. Richardsons goal made it 18-18. As you were, but the Tigers with the momentum.
Within a minute McShane was in again taking a reverse pass as he supported Richardson’s break down the centre of the field. Richardson popped his kick between the uprights and with an unanswered twenty-four points the Tigers had taken the lead.
Two minutes before the break and the Red Devils were back on level terms, Luke Yates hitting a gap from five metres out to score by the uprights off a Brown pass. Inu added his fourth goal for 24-24 after an incredible half of rugby.
The Tigers were back in front five minutes after the restart when Liam Watts offloaded to Richardson who broke for twenty before finding the supporting Mike McMeeken to canter over under the sticks. Richardson converted for 30-24.
The tit-for-tat continued on fifty-one with Rhys Williams taking a bullet pass from Evalds and stepping inside two Tigers tacklers to score. Inu converted superbly from the touchline for 30-30.
As we entered the last twenty minutes there was nothing to choose between the two sides.
A Danny Richardson drop goal on sixty-five edged the Tigers into a one point lead, The Red Devils playing catch-up again.
On seventy-one the margin of the lead was up to seven points. A last tackle gruber kick from Danny Richardson was picked up by a stooping Grant Millington who got the ball on the ground without a Red Devils hand being laid on him. Richardson added the conversion for a 37-30 lead.
It was a game of end to end excitement which will leave both coaches lamenting their respective defensive efforts. The Tigers held on for the win, their first since the restart of games last month, while after taking an eighteen point lead the Salford Red Devils will be left wondering where what happened as they head into a week off to take stock of where their season is now going.
Red Devils: Evalds (T), Inu (5G), Welham, Kear, Williams (T), Lolohea, Brown (T), Dudson, Lussick (T), Yates (T), Greenwood, McCarthy, Flanagan. Subs: Pauli, Ikahihifo, Burke, Ackers.
Tigers: O’Brien, Eden, Shenton (T), Foster, Olpherts, Mata’utia, Richardson (T, 6G, DG), Massey, Watts, McShane (2T), Griffin, Holmes, McMeeken (T), Massey. Subs: Millington (T), Milner, Moors, Turner.
Referee: Robert Hicks.
Ground: Emerald Headingley Stadium, Leeds.