Salford and Castleford kicked off the 2021 Magic Weekend at a damp and breezy St James’ Park Newcastle. A fantastic stadium that would do a Cup Final or Test Match justice.
Salford coach Richard Marshall kept faith with the side that beat Hull on Monday with the surprise selection being Kevin Brown at loose forward. Greg Burke moved in at prop to replace Jack Ormondroyd. The bench remained the same as last time out with Geordie boy Sam Luckley among the substitutes.
Darryl Powell had four former Salford players in his starting thirteen. Derrell Olpherts, Jordan Turner, George Griffin and 2021 Lance Todd Trophy winner Niall Evalds was the Tigers fullback. Paul McShane started at hooker and the half back partnership was Turner and Peter Mata’utia.
Salford marched out for kick off in their special white kit, the Tigers were in black shirts with an orange v.
It was a fantastic atmosphere with the Salford supporters making plenty of noise in the famous Gallowgate end of the ground.
Harvey Livett pulled out just prior to kick off with Oliver Roberts stepping in and Matty Costello was promoted to the bench.
Referee Chris Kendall was kept busy early doors with both sides conceding penalties.
Paul McShane opened the scoring catching the Salford defence asleep as he scampered over for a trademark try from dummy half.
Ata Hingano came mighty close to scoring but was prevented by some excellent defence. Moments later though Salford were over the line. Great buildup play from Tui Lolohea set up Ken Sio who finished superbly. Krisnan Inu levelled the scores at 6-6.
It was that man McShane who was once again a thorn in Salford’s side, this time the number set up a try for Daniel Smith.
Both sides carved out more chances in what was a thrilling first half full of action. It was the Tigers who went in at halftime leading after Oliver Holmes powered over from close range.
Salford hit back with a smashing try of their own. After forcing a repeat set the Red Devils flung the ball left with some really crisp passing. Joe Burgess scores the try and once again Inu levelled the scores.
Jordan Turner extended the Castleford lead after he threw and dummy and went over to give his side a ten point lead. Salford continued to chip away with Sam Luckley working hard with some super offload work. The Red Devils cranked the pressure up and Ata Hingano got the try they deserved.
Trailing by four points Salford continued to press and when Lolohea thumped a forty-twenty kick it looked like they would get the levelling try. The attack however broke down after some desperate Tigers defence forced the attack in touch.
The game hung in the balance until eight minutes from time when Peter Mata’utia darted over and went on to convert his own try, this restored the ten point advantage. Salford never gave up but couldn’t quite find the points they needed. Jordan Turner’s drop goal in the final seconds rubbed salt in the Salford wound but Castleford got the victory they deserved.
Salford 18 Castleford 29.
Pictures by Steve McCormick.