The old railway end of Castleford’s Wheldon Road ground was quite a sight as Paul Rowley’s Salford side charged out for kick off in this crucial penultimate match of the regular season. A vocal travelling army had made the journey up the M62 to a ground that has seen plenty of let downs and disappointing days for Salford over the years. Could this be the day to lay a few ghosts to rest and stride proudly into the top six?
Although the pitch was a short one it looked in fantastic condition prior to kick off and the fever pitch atmosphere generated by both sets of supporters was absolutely electric.
After a hard working victory over Hull on Thursday night Rowley kept faith with the majority of the side. He did make a few subtle changes. Dan Sarginson came in on the wing for Rhys Williams. King Vuniyayawa returned to the side from a long injury lay off and started the match. Shane Wright also made the starting thirteen with Alex Gerrard on the bench.
The first points came from the boot of Marc Sneyd with a penalty goal to nudge Salford in front. The Red Devils then tore into the Tigers and ripped their defence to pieces. Brodie Croft sliced through and fed the supporting Sneyd for a lovely try.
It was then back to back scores from a slick move down the right edge. This time Sio touched down and Sneyd booted the goal 0-14. The blistering start wasn’t finished their either. Jack Ormondroyd went charging through after intelligent play from hooker Andy Ackers. The big prop threw and dummy before scorching to the line to score. When in full flight Ormondroyd is a sight to behold and he certainly takes some stopping. Sneyd again converted 0-20.
The shell shocked Tigers sprung into life when the lively Jake Mamo scored a try out of nothing. The home side then enjoyed a decent spell of possession to take the sting out of Salford. Derrell Olpherts managed to squeeze in at the corner to reduce the deficit to 10-20.
Tim Lafai had a try claim turned down by the video referee and was unlucky not to score.
Castleford suffered another blow before the break when play maker Danny Richardson was helped off the field with a leg injury.
Right on the half time hooter both sets of players came together in the centre of the pitch. A few punches were thrown and Salford were awarded a penalty which Sneyd attempted to kick. From quite a distance out the kick fell short and Salford went in at half time with a ten point advantage.
The Tigers supporters sniffed a comeback and their side seemed to be right back in the match. Sneyd took advantage of another penalty goal shortly after the restart to give Salford a two score cushion.
The game then could of took a huge twist, Salford on the attack and Croft’s floated pass went to Olpherts who raced away with an interception. The Red Devils chased back to kill the attack and save a vital try.
Kallum Watkins was once again in inspirational form and he could of scored a try but unselfishly put Shane Wright in for a very significant try.
Salford now led 10-28 and they went through the gears playing some sensational rugby. Sio broke only to be caught no to far short. He didn’t panic and took the tackle knowing his team had tackles left to build an attack. The ball went from right to left in a flash, Salford’s composure under pressure was commendable. Deon Cross finished the move with a well deserved try.
The next try came from a set scrum. Croft spotted a gap and went for it. In a breathtaking piece of play the magic Australian grabbed the try to delight the travelling support who were dancing on the terraces, it was a lovely sight to see.
Salford weren’t finished yet, substitute Chris Atkin provided a new dimension to the attack and Castleford couldn’t deal with it. Atkin created a try for Watkins before working another top try for Marc Sneyd. Sneyd converted his own try to bring the fifty point mark up for Salford.
The Red Devils scored some fantastic tries in a real demolition job. But don’t forget the hard work in defence that laid the foundations for the vital victory. King Vuniyayawa was outstanding on his comeback. His ability to drive the ball up full pelt making substantial meters every run got the pack on top. Croft was unplayable at times and Tim Lafai was so elusive all afternoon.
Ryan Brierley had injections before the match and at half time showing incredible determination to get through the match.
The players and supporters lapped the victory up at the full time hooter and boy did they deserve it. The whole club is on an incredible journey and the exciting thing is nobody knows where it will end in 2022. Rowley stayed very humble after the match and he wants to beat Warrington next Saturday before plotting Salford’s assault on the playoffs.
It’s quite a time to be a Salford supporter and long may it continue.
Castleford 10 Salford 50.
Big thanks to Steve McCormick for the pictures!