It was a really wet and miserable day at Headingley prior to kick off. It certainly didn’t feel like the month of May but the rain eased off just before the start of the match.
Salford coach Richard Marshall made a few subtle changes. Dan Sarginson returned from injury to replace Elliot Kear at fullback. Pauli Pauli and Elijah Taylor started in the pack with Oliver Roberts and Josh Johnson missing out.
Castleford started the game as favourites and in the opening exchanges it was easy to see why. Salford made early mistakes losing possession on a number of occasions which handed the impetus to the Tigers. The Red Devils were put under a lot of pressure but defended their line tremendously, repelling every attack thrown at them.
The games first try came from Salford centre Harvey Livett who also added the conversion. A second try nearly followed but Danny Addy lost the ball trying to burrow his way over the try line.
The Tigers immediately made the most of the let-off as substitute forward Daniel Smith took Paul McShane’s pass from dummy half to crash over for a try showing great power making an immediate impact. Danny Richardson levelled the scores at 6-6.
The match started to unfold into an end to end cup tie with both sides spurning chances. Liam Watts came close for Castleford before a penalty set up Salford’s second try. A lovely set move saw James Greenwood send Harvey Livett over to score.
With Salford leading 6-12 the first half drew to a close. A last ditch effort from the Tigers saw them draw level with the last play of the half. Watts combined with fellow prop Grant Millington to send Peter Mata’utia over. Richardson tied the scores at 12-12 at half time.
Both sides continued their war of attrition in the second half with defences on top. The arm wrestle became ferocious at times with some great tackling on show.
Veteran centre Michael Shenton was denied a try by Ken Sio. He did take his second opportunity though when the invention of Paul McShane sent him racing to the line to put the Tigers in front on the hour mark.
Castleford were reduced to twelve men when Gareth O’Brien was sin binned for obstructing Chris Atkin and Salford came mighty close to scoring through Kevin Brown who was held up over the line.
Salford’s Lee Mossop came up with a real captains knock in the final seconds of the match, charging over with four Castleford defenders unable to stop him. Livett kicked the conversion to send the teams into Golden Point Extra Time.
Salford had the first drop goal attempt through Kevin Brown but it was smartly charged down by McShane. The Tigers kept their composure and drove the ball towards the Salford posts. O’Brien calmly slotted over the winning drop goal to give Castleford the victory 19-18. Ironically it was O’Brien who kept Salford in the Super League in 2016 with a golden point one pointer and strangely enough that game ended 19-18 as well.
Castleford will meet Warrington in the Semi Finals with Hull and Wigan contesting the other.
Salford again showed signs of improvement but lacked that bit of composure on attack at times. With plenty of effort and endeavour on show Richard Marshall certainly has the foundations to build on.
The Red Devils face St.Helens next up in the Super League.
Castleford 19 Salford 18.