Castleford 24-20 Salford: Tigers battle past spirited Red Devils
Last Updated: 17/03/19 6:56pm
Castleford returned to winning ways as they came through a stern examination to edge Salford 24-20 at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle.
The Tigers suffered their first defeat of the Super League season at Warrington last time out and they were made to work hard for a win that took them level with the Wolves in second place.
Castleford were on course for a comfortable victory after Greg Eden added to first-half tries from Nathan Massey and Jordan Rankin to give them an 18-4 lead.
But Salford - fresh from a stunning 46-0 demolition of Catalans Dragons - produced a stirring fightback as Jansin Turgut and Joey Lussick scored in quick succession.
Jesse Sene-Lefao's try gave the Tigers a cushion, only for Jake Bibby to go over for his second try to set up a nervy finish that Castleford survived relatively comfortably.
It was a cagey start in blustery conditions with the sides - level on points in the table before kick-off - going set-for-set.
Castleford won the early arm wrestle and opened the scoring in the eighth minute when Massey touched down a well-weighted kick from Jake Trueman that caught Salford off guard on the fourth tackle. Rankin added the extras and then accepted a gift from the Red Devils to put his team in control.
Niall Evalds then collected a kick and tried to pass the ball inside to Kris Welham, only for the centre to lose his footing, with Rankin scooping up the loose ball to score next to the posts.
The Tigers scrum-half converted his own try to make it 12-0 but Salford are a much-improved side this year and they hit back just before the half-hour mark. Good hands from the Red Devils quickly shifted the ball out to the left where Bibby forced his way over.
Salford sensed an opportunity when Paul McShane was sin-binned after he and Peter Mata'utia took exception to a tackle by Red Devils debutant Adam Walker, making his first appearance after serving a drugs ban.
Welham was chased down by Michael Shenton and Greg Minikin following an interception and Lussick held up over the line in a frustrating period for the visitors.
McShane returned after the interval and Castleford started to turn the screw, twice forcing goal-line drop outs with neat kicks.
The pressure told as Eden scored his seventh try of the season in the corner and Rankin's superb conversion appeared to put the Tigers out of sight.
But two converted tries in three minutes left Salford only two points behind heading into the final quarter.
First Turgut - filling in at centre - took advantage of poor defence on Castleford's right edge to go over and then Lussick scored from close range to stun the hosts.
But the Tigers are a tough team to beat in front of their own fans and they showed why as they closed out a gritty win. Eden had a try chalked off for obstruction but Castleford were soon celebrating a crucial score as Sene-Lefao went through a huge hole in Salford's defence after taking McShane's pass.
Rankin quickly made amends for missing a simple conversion by knocking over a 30-metre penalty to give the Tigers an eight-point lead.
Bibby set up a nervy final five minutes when he punished a Minikin mistake but Lussick's two missed conversions proved the difference in a close encounter.