The Castleford coach Terry Matterson was left to contemplate a last day visit to Wakefield to save his side's Super League place after Andy Coley's try 10 minutes from the end of a dramatic game at the Willows last night ensured the relegation issue will go down to the wire.
The Tigers were agonisingly short of securing the win to ensure their safety when Coley crashed over from Malcolm Alker's pass, Chris Charles later adding a penalty and David Hodgson a late try to ensure Salford's first appearance in the Super League play-offs.
"We were 10 minutes from safety but now we have to lift ourselves again," Matterson said. "It is a grand final for both clubs and the stakes are massive. There are no bigger local derby games than this one. We would have liked to have finished it tonight but it was not to be and we didn't take our chances."
Castleford, backed by a large and noisy following of their fans, many of whom had taken advantage of the free coach transport provided by club sponsors, seemed determined to take matters into their own hands, irrespective of events at Odsal. After the kick-off was delayed by 15 minutes because of congestion outside, it was firmly against the run of play when Andrew Dunemann's sleight of hand provided Alker with a close-range opportunity to open Salford's account.
But the Tigers were undaunted and they established a 14-4 lead with tries by Luke Dyer and Danny Sculthorpe and three Danny Brough goals before Salford clawed back to within six points at the interval, Daley Williams reacting first to Stuart Littler's kick to the corner.
Luke Robinson hauled Salford level with a fine individual try, his jinking run and determination eluding three close-range defenders, with Hodgson adding his first goal. But Brough calmly potted a 62nd minute penalty to restore the Tigers' lead before the late drama.
"I can't praise the players enough," Karl Harrison, the Salford coach, said. "Some people may think we have over-achieved but to reach the play-offs is a great achievement and we have some big games ahead."
Salford: Hodgson; Williams, McGuinness, Moule, Wilshere; Dunemann, Robinson; Coley, Alker, Rutgerson, Littler, Brocklehurst, Finnigan. Substitutes used: Adamson, Charles, Highton, Haggerty.
Castleford: Platt; A Fletcher, Shenton, McGoldrick, Dyer; Lupton, Brough; Sculthorpe, Henderson, Nutley, Manu, Ward, R Fletcher. Substitutes used: Bird, Viane, Fa'aoso, Davis.
Referee: K Kirkpatrick (Warrington).Reuse content