CASTLEFORD TIGERS boss Daryl Powell bemoaned a “slow” game as his side overcame shoddy Salford Red Devils, 22-8.
The League Leaders’ Shield winners made it three successive victories as they proved too good for the woeful visitors but it turned into a scrappy contest and they have still yet to find their best this term. Castleford were 20-0 up at half-time and should really have been farther ahead despite having Oli Holmes’ yellow-carded for a dangerous tackle on Tyrone McCarthy.
“It was probably part of the problem (that the game was won by half-time),” said Powell.
“’I thought there were some great signs in that first half; our ball movement was good, our kicking game was and we defended really well.
“The second half was just a poor game. The conditions didn’t help, it was very slow.
“The refereeing was slow, there were too many penalties, we couldn’t get any tempo. It was so slow. But there were some really promising signs.”
Second-row Holmes was sin-binned for a ‘spear’ tackle in the 18th minute.
At that point, his side were 12-0 to the good but – such was the visitors’ ineptitude – Castleford actually extended that to 14-0 by the time he returned. Ian Watson’s side were abysmal throughout the entire first period, constantly either spilling the ball, making forward passes or fumbling kicks.
It was possible to count the number of times they reached a kick of their own on one hand.
All of which made life so easy for Powell’s side who saw ex-Leigh Centurions winger James Clare make his ‘second’ debut after rejoining last winter, coming in for the injured Greg Eden.
Captain Michael Shenton opened the scoring as early as the fifth minute with a strong finish in the corner. They soon added another when Jake Bibby made a mess of Paul McShane’s grubber and Clare mopped up, Gale converting and then adding a penalty.
Even after Greg Johnson produced a remarkable tackle to deny Greg Minikin a try on the winger’s 100th career appearance they still managed to mess things up, Josh Jones coughing up Gale’s harmless grubber to see the England scrum-half cross for a try of his own.
Gale improved all three of Castleford’s tries but Salford returned after the break with an improved attitude. Junior Sau got them off the mark after running a good line off Jack Littlejohn’s pass in the 51st minute but Robert Lui fluffed the conversion attempt and then Sau had to depart soon after with a nasty head wound.
On the hour mark, Castleford’s Grant Millington – arguably their best forward – and Salford’s Logan Tomkins both had to depart, too, to the sin-bin.
Tomkins was penalised for laying on the Australian too long in the tackle. When the hooker still didn’t get off Millington picked him up and dumped him on the floor, causing a melee. Gale kicked the two points but the game became increasingly bitty before Bibby gave Salford a late consolation try.
Castleford Tigers: Roberts; Minikin, Webster, Shenton, Clare; Ellis, Gale; Massey, McShane, Millington, Holmes, McMeeken, Foster. Substitutes: Milner, Cook, Sene-Lefao, Green.
Salford Red Devils: Evalds: Bibby, Welham, Sau, Johnson; Lui, Littlejohn; Griffin, Wood, Burgess, Jones, Hauraki, McCarthy. Substitutes: Tomkins,m Tasi, Nakubuwai, Flanagan.
Referee: Liam Moore (Leeds).