Castleford stare into the abyss as Salford are safe

Castleford 22 - Salford 24
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Castleford are on the brink of dropping out of Super League after losing a match of almost unbearable tension at The Jungle.

Castleford are on the brink of dropping out of Super League after losing a match of almost unbearable tension at The Jungle.

Matters seemed under control until the stroke of half-time, but then three Salford tries in 10 minutes put them on the way to safety, while only big wins in their last two games and other results going their way can save Cas.

The opening was as nervous as you might expect from two sides in such precarious positions and the supremacy of the defences was exemplified by two candidates for tackle of the season - Francis Maloney's to flatten Gavin Clinch and Andy Coley carrying Waine Pryce 10 yards over the Castleford try-line.

It was 23 minutes before either side cracked, the wily veteran Brad Davis kicking towards the corner and his fellow Australian, Paul Mellor, rising above Karl Fitzpatrick to claim the ball and touch down for Cas with Wayne Godwin converting from a wide angle.

Mellor was fortunate to have a penalty given in his favour after a touchline skirmish he seemed to instigate. He and his side took advantage, with the ball going through the hands of Mark Tookey, Maloney and Davis for the giant wing-man to score again. Maloney added the goal.

Salford were furious but got back into the game seconds before half-time when Damien Gibson dropped Fitzpatrick's high kick and Malcolm Alker found a big gap in the defence for a try, which Chris Charles converted.

Six minutes after the break, Salford were level, Fitzpatrick taking Clinch's pass and bouncing out of two tackles for another converted try. Clinch then dispossessed Steve Crouch and passed for Coley to storm over.

It was time for Cas to show how much they wanted to stay in Super League. Craig Greenhill's barging run sent Francis Maloney over for the equaliser.

The tension was all too apparent in a brief outburst of fighting between fans.

Fitzpatrick fashioned a try out of nothing, kicking and re-gathering and then popping up again to take the final pass from Cliff Beverley.

Mellor grabbed his hat-trick 10 minutes from time, but Salford are safe; how Castleford wish they could say the same.

Castleford: Gibson; Pryce, Saxton, Rogers, Mellor; Davis, Maloney; Greenhill, Godwin, Lynch, Harland, Crouch, Hudson. Substitutes used Sykes, Tookey, Hepworth, Jackson.

Salford: Fitzpatrick; Caine, Littler, Beverley, Stewart; McGuinness, Clinch; Baynes, Alker, Highton, Coley, Rutgerson, Charles. Substitutes used Haggerty, Johnson, Shipway, Baldwin.

Referee: S Ganson (St Helens)