A trip to Wheldon Road is a difficult mission at the best of times but to go there on the opening night of the new season in front of a big partisan crowd was the task awaiting a Paul Rowley’s new look Salford side. We’re almost half way through February now and the weather was dry. It was pretty bitter approaching kick off though with the glow from the floodlights beaming across the short pitch. The white iron fence that runs round the side of the pitch is almost timeless at a ground that hasn’t changed much through the decades. It does however ooze history and tradition. As the crowd awaited the two sides entering the tunnel the atmosphere was electric.
Both sides had new players on show with visitors Salford handing debuts to
Ryan Brierley, Tim Lafai, Deon Cross, Brodie Croft, Sitaleki Akauola and Shane Wright. King Vuniyayawa was on the bench and Marc Sneyd made his second debut for the club after leaving Salford in 2014.
Castleford had former Salford players Niall Evalds, Derrell Olpherts and George Griffin in their starting thirteen. Jordan Turner made the bench.
The Tigers like Salford had a new coach in charge with Lee Radford in the hot seat. Joe Westerman was at loose forward for the hosts making his second debut after over a decade away from the club. Westerman left for Hull in 2011 and also had good spells with Warrington, Toronto and Wakefield.
Salford went straight under pressure when Brodie Croft spilled the kick off. The Red Devils muscles up well in defence to hold out.
Both sides made errors in the opening stages with Castleford enjoying most of the field position. Salford took the lead from a penalty with Sneyd making no mistake with a kick at goal.
The Tigers continued to press and scored a try from a kick very close to the line. Griffin crashed over with Danny Richardson kicking the goal 6-2.
Great vision from Sneyd finds Joe Burgess with a kick over early in the tackle count. Castleford cover it in defence but on the next play Ken Sio finishes superbly in the corner to level the scores. Sneyd booted the goal of the touch line 6-8.
The Tigers hit back with a try from Olpherts. Salford were caught short out wide as Castleford had the numbers. Richardson pulled the conversion wide. 10-8.
The first half pendulum took a huge swing just before the break. King Vuniyayawa charged over from close range then from the kick off Salford went the length of the field to silence the home supporters. Deon Cross showed fantastic pace to hot foot to the line. Sneyd converted both tries 10-20.
Tigers winger Bureta Faraimo was sin binned right before the half time hooter and a whirlwind first half finished with the Red Devils in a well deserved lead.
The first points of the second half went to Castleford. Salford mis counted the tackles and turned the ball over in their own half. The Tigers flung the ball wide and Olpherts scores his second try. Richardson converted to bring the scores back to 16-20.
Niall Evalds knocked the kick off on and James Greenwood thought he’d scored only to be held up over the line. Salford cranked the pressure up with two drop outs and then a penalty for a high tackle. Sneyd decided to kick at goal. His fifth successful kick edged Salford into a 16-22 lead.
Salford then received another penalty just over the half way line. Sneyd didn’t hesitate and immediately decided a kick at goal was the thing to do. The noise from the travelling support at the railway end seemed to help the ball float over. 16-24.
As the match entered the final quarter Castleford began to throw everything they could at Salford but the Red Devils were so resilient in defence.
Sneyd added another penalty to give Salford a ten point lead in the closing stages.
Salford were brave and chanced their arm when they needed to on what was an impressive night away from home.
Castleford 16 Salford 26