SALFORD Devils tamed the rampant Castleford Tigers in a wet and windy encounter at the AJ Bell Stadium today.
A narrow 13-12 win for the home-side, with Gareth O’Brien once again kicking the one point drop goal with just three minutes left on the clock, meant that Ian Watson was a happy head coach when he spoke to Quays News after the game.
Given how Castleford have dominated teams so far this season, few gave the home side any chance of a win today.
It was Ben Murdoch-Masila who was the real man of the match for the home side though, scoring two tries to more than make up for his error last week at Wakefield.
Looking fit and raring to go at every opportunity, his pumping legs drove Salford forwards all afternoon, and his tries were just rewards for his effort.
It was a happy Ian Watson that faced the press post match.
Asked about the fact the club’s new signing, Todd Carney, spent the entire game on the bench, he admitted he was about to bring the former Dally M medal winner on when Castleford were leading with about ten minutes left.
“I wanted him to offer something different to Cas. They hadn’t seen him play and we were looking to give their defence something new to look at, but once we pulled it back to level (10-10), I thought that we looked good enough with Dobson and Lui.”
As it was, Salford fans will be more than happy with taking the two point from a team who have dominated every game they have played so far this season.
Tigers’ coach Daryl Powell was full of praise for the opposition, telling the press:
“I thought it was a slow game. They (Salford) played the conditions better than we did and looked superb. They really deserved the win.”
Watson was keen to point out that Salford have failed to back up their last win at home (24-14, against Warrington) with a win away from home.
“We need to make sure we go to Widnes on Friday and get a result. The lads are pumped with the win today, but it’s important we start to back it up.”
Castleford had lead for most of the afternoon, going in at the half-time hooter 4-6 up thanks to a try in the sixth minute by Luke Gale, who also converted before Ben Murdoch-Masila went over, brushing the Tigers’ defence aside like cobwebs just after 30 minutes, but O’Brien was unable to convert.
The second half began with the rain really intensifying, and it was to be Castleford who scored first, in the right hand corner through Greg Minikin, who injured his shoulder as he went over.
Gale again accurate with the boot meant that Salford were now eight points adrift.
The possession ebbed and flowed as the half wore on, and it wasn’t until the 51st minute that Murdoch-Masila would somehow barge over under the posts to get Salford back into the game, O’Brien converting and at 10-12, both sides looked for a chink in the others armour.
It was to be the Tigers who blinked though, giving away a penalty in front of the posts, to allow Salford to draw level.
Cometh the hour, cometh the man, and in the case of Salford, that man is usually Gareth O’Brien, and so it was again today, his team mates getting the ball to him just in front of the posts, and another one pointer sealed the game.
Castleford did well to get the ball back up to the Salford try line in the final few seconds, but it was too late.
As the hooter went, the crowd were left shell shocked.
Salford have had a habit of not closing out tight games recently, but there was a steel about them today, possibly the fact that with Todd Carney on the bench, that some players were not ready to hand over their starting berth just yet.
Overall, it was a good, solid team performance that saw Salford home.
Salford: O’Brien, Johnson, Welham, Sa’u, Carney, Lui, Dobson, Walne, Tomkins, Mossop, Murdoch-Masala, Griffin.
Replacements: Brinning, Krasniqi, Kopczak, Carney
Castleford: Hardaker, Minikin, Webster, Shenton, Eden; Roberts, Gale; Lynch, McShane, Massey, Sene-Lefao, McMeeken, Milner.
Replacements: Millington, Moores, Cook, Springer
Referee: Mr P. Bentham (RFL)