Super League: Salford Red Devils 26-22 Castleford Tigers – Hosts hold on for first win

Salford centre Nene Macdonald marked his home debut with an audacious try as the Red Devils held off Castleford to claim their first win of the season.

Macdonald sped through to pluck Marc Sneyd’s steepling kick out of the air ahead of Tigers full-back Luke Hooley and score right on half-time.

Sam Stone added two tries for Salford, with Amir Bourouh also going over and Sneyd kicking five goals from five.

Castleford fought to close the gap to four points but the home side clung on.

With Salford’s new signing David Nofoaluma flying in from the southern hemisphere just three days earlier, coach Paul Rowley made just a single enforced change to the side edged out in their season opener at Leeds Rhinos.

Loose forward Joe Shorrocks replaced the injured Ollie Partington, while Castleford fielded an unchanged starting 13 from last weekend’s 32-4 defeat to defending champions Wigan Warriors.

Shorrocks saw plenty of the ball in a one-sided opening 15 minutes as Salford threatened to overwhelm the visitors, with Sneyd’s shrewd kicking forcing two goal-line drop-outs and building relentless pressure.

The Tigers’ dogged defence was eventually breached as Stone burst through on the left to cross the line – and the home side stretched their lead to 12-0 almost immediately when Brad Singleton put Bourouh in under the posts.

Castleford finally gained a foothold in the game as Sam Wood went over on the left and when Jack Broadbent slid in to finish off a slick passing move for an unconverted score the gap narrowed to two points.

But the Red Devils regained some breathing space just before the half-time hooter as Macdonald – a close-season signing from Leeds – timed his run to perfection, chasing Sneyd’s high kick and outjumping Hooley to collect the ball and ground it over the line.

Stone extended Salford’s advantage to 14 points soon after the turnaround, gobbling up a grubber kick from Sneyd for his second try of the afternoon.

However, the Tigers refused to capitulate, fighting their way deep into home territory and Elie El-Zakhem offloaded for Westerman to score before Salford had prop Jack Ormondroyd sin-binned for a late tackle on Jacob Miller.

That set up a tense finish and although Sneyd kicked a penalty to make it 26-16, Liam Horne burst through from dummy half to score the Tigers’ fourth try with 90 seconds remaining.

Salford then had Kallum Watkins yellow-carded for holding down, but the 12 men withstood Castleford’s final desperate attack to wrap up victory.

Salford Red Devils head coach Paul Rowley told BBC Radio Manchester:

“We had a lot more opportunities to score tries and just didn’t get it right on occasions. But that’s a work in progress, we’ve got a lot of new players in key positions.

“It was really important today just to get the two points in the bag and get off the mark. I thought there were some really good things in the game – certainly our start was very controlled and very disciplined.

“We spoke a lot about challenging kicks and getting reward and I think the Nene Macdonald try was a good example of that.

“It was a bit of brilliance and I thought he was a shining light out there, probably the difference between the two sides.”

Castleford Tigers head coach Craig Lingard told BBC Radio Leeds:

“We started the game poorly – we had the first set, then seven, eight or nine defensively on the bounce. If you give a team that much possession the dam’s eventually going to break and that’s what happened.

“I’m pleased with the effort and application. We just need to be a little bit better with our execution and recognition of parts of the game where momentum’s key.

“We scored two tries and failed to claim the ball from the kick-off twice, so we gave the momentum back on that occasion.

“Then they go down to 12 men and tackle two in the first set that we have the ball, we give it back to them for an incorrect play. Momentum’s hard to get and once you’ve got it, you don’t want to give it back to the opposition.”

Salford: Brierley, Hankinson, Macdonald, Lafai, Cross, Cust, Sneyd, Ormondroyd, Bourouh, Singleton, Stone, Watkins, Shorrocks.

Interchanges: Atkin, Vuniyayawa, Wright, Hellewell.

Castleford: Hooley, Qareqare, Broadbent, Wood, Senior, Richardson, Miller, Lawler, Horne, Putt, El-Zakhem, Tasipale, Westerman.

Interchanges: Milnes, Hall, Mustapha, Kibula.

Referee: James Vella

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