Hanley unable to lift Castleford as Salford stay ahead

Castleford Tigers 32 Salford City Reds 36
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Castleford twice squandered a 12-point lead to fall six points adrift at the foot of the Super League table. It is too early to talk about them being doomed, but it is going to take more than any Ellery Hanley effect to turn them around.

Castleford twice squandered a 12-point lead to fall six points adrift at the foot of the Super League table. It is too early to talk about them being doomed, but it is going to take more than any Ellery Hanley effect to turn them around.

The arrival of Hanley as coaching consultant in midweek looked perfectly timed for their showdown with the club immediately above them. But if he and the Castleford head coach, Gary Mercer, were in any doubt before, they know now what a deep hole the Tigers are in.

"I'll never give up," said Mercer. "Never have, never will, and nor will Ellery. We're going to make these players work harder than they ever have before."

Hanley will certainly be at the forefront of demanding more than those players showed yesterday. "It's all about being mentally strong and mentally tough for the full 80 minutes, and unfortunately the players weren't," he said.

That was all the more galling for the way that Cas were twice in a winning position. After Joel Caine's penalty had put Salford ahead, Castleford had a handy lead through tries from Wayne Godwin and Michael Smith, plus three goals from Godwin.

When Paul Mellor was sin-binned, however, Salford hit them with tries on either side of the break, from Neil Baynes and Caine, to tie the scores.

The home side, without a win in their first 10 games, looked to be on their way to winning their 11th when Lee Harland and Andy Kain put them back in front, but the final quarter was all about Salford and their new-found resilience.

Although they lost their inspirational captain, Malcolm Alker, with a suspected broken rib, they dug deep into their resources and took control of the match.

The big forwards, Paul Highton and Gareth Haggerty, both barged through a tiring defence and the crucial try of the game came when Anthony Stewart caught a long kick from the debutant Castleford scrum-half, Luke Robinson, to sprint 80 yards through threadbare cover and score. Andy Johnson's try made the game safe, although Ryan Hudson got one back in the last minute for Castleford.

"Psychologically, that was a very big result for us," said the Salford coach, Karl Harrison. "To go three wins in front of Castleford means it's a long way for them to come back.

"We've battled really, really hard in adversity today, but I still don't think Castleford will go down. They've got too many good players." The challenge for Hanley now is to get them to play.

* The Bradford Bulls moved back into second place with a hard-earned 30-20 victory over the Widnes Vikings at the Halton Stadium. Meanwhile, Wigan survived a late rally at Wakefield to win 20-14, and Huddersfield consolidated their position in the top six with a resounding 30-6 win over the London Broncos at Griffin Park.

Castleford: Gibson; Rogers, Mellor, Newlove, Maloney; Rudder, Robinson; Lynch, Godwin, Greenhill, Smith, Harland, Hudson. Substitutes used: Hepworth, Ryan, Kain, Jackson.

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

Referee: K Kirkpatrick (Warrington).

Comments