After last weeks victory over Leigh, Salford were back in action at the AJ Bell Stadium against Castleford. It was a breezy evening and it certainly didn’t feel like the month of May was around the corner. The pitch as usual looked in immaculate condition prior to kick off.
Salford coach Richard Marshall once again made changes. Krisnan Inu missed out with Harvey Livett slotting in at centre. Danny Addy returned from injury to start at loose forward and Kallum Watkins replaced the injured Matty Costello.
It was certainly strange to see Niall Evalds warming up in Castleford colours before the match. The Tigers also had Derrell Olpherts in their starting lineup on the wing.
Castleford had won their first three matches of the Super League season and were beaten in a close match last week at Wigan. With both sides meeting again next weekend in the Challenge Cup Quarter finals you sensed tonight would be a big test of Salford’s progress so far.
The match started at a really quick tempo with both sides putting in some monster tackles. With the stands being empty you could hear the thud and crunch of every collision.
The Tigers struck first with a real opportunistic try from Greg Eden in the sixth minute on his sides first real attack of prominence.
Salford struck back with a try of their own. Tui Lolohea thumped a high kick, Watkins leaped to claim the ball superbly before offloading to the supporting Kevin Brown who dived under the posts. Harvey Livett levelled the scores with the conversion 6-6.
Salford hit the lead moments later. Niall Evalds was trapped in goal on the back of another good attacking kick this time from Brown. From the drop out the pressure was built before Andy Ackers sneaked over from dummy half.
Paul McShane set up a lovely Castleford break with a clever offload. The support play was good with Liam Watts charging over to touch down. Danny Richardson levelled the scores with the conversion at 12-12.
The high velocity end to end action continued through the first half. The odd mistake was made but Salford looked a much better side than of recent weeks.
More energy, more cohesive and the kicking game from Brown and Lolohea was excellent with the right choices at the right times.
Danny Addy conceded a cheap and needless penalty right on half time and Danny Richardson nailed it from around the half way line.
A very enjoyable and entertaining first half ended 12-14.
I took just two minutes for the first try of the second half. A Salford knock on put them under pressure and a defensive clock off allowed the Tigers to increase their lead. Cheyse Blair touching down on the end of another neat kick.
It took some super Castleford defence to deny Andy Ackers his second try.
Salford started to concede soft penalties and when one fell in range Richardson took the two points on offer to edge the Tigers further in front 12-22.
The game started to slip away from Salford. Another repeat set was given away and some soft defending allowed Jake Truman to punish the Red Devils with another try.
Conceding penalties became a real hindrance to Salford’s progress in the second half. A late shot on Richardson from Lee Mossop saw the experienced prop sent to the sin bin before Richardson took the gift wrapped two points on offer.
Kevin Brown provided another sublime kick to create Salford’s third try. Lolohea touched down and Brown booted a super quick conversion. With eight minutes remaining the deficit was ten points at 18-28.
Their were definitely signs of improvement for the Red Devils but the second half discipline will be a major concern for coach Richard Marshall.
Salford 18 Castleford 28