Salford frozen out by Owen

Salford City Reds 10 Castleford Tigers 24

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The Independent Online

Richard Owen is clearly a player whose appetite for the fray is not diminished when there is a bit of a nip in the air. The Castleford full-back, whose exploits this winterincluded getting himself arrested for fighting with a man dressed as Father Christmas, scored two tries and made another as he spoiled Salford's festivities.

The start of a new summer season of Super League and the opening of Salford's new stadium were greeted by snow, sleet and an icy gale, but there was a grim determination that the show must go on.

When, after the celebratory red smoke cleared, it did go on, Salford suffered an early blow with the loss of their hooker, Wayne Godwin, with an obviously painful rib injury.

That worked indirectly in their favour when his replacement, Stuart Howarth, supplied the pass that set up the first try at the Salford City Stadium. There was still plenty for Matty Smith to do, but on a tricky surface he managed to wrong-foot two defenders and slip through the gap between them.

Each side had a near-try disallowed, Adam Milner being prevented from grounding the ball and Salford's Daniel Holdsworth having one ruled out for an obstruction.

In general, Rangi Chase, the winner of most of the game's individual awards last season, was being kept quiet, but he did chime in by creating the hole through which Owen scored Castleford's first try of the campaign, goaled by Kirk Dixon to give them a 6-4 half-time lead.

Owen was the key man when Tigers went further clear soon after the break, showing great vision by kicking to the wing for Josh Griffin to get a second boot to the ball and dive in for a debut try.

In ever-worsening conditions – perhaps to be expected when "summer" begins in early February – Chase's kick for Adam Milner effectively clinched the game.

There was still time for Salford to score a quite excellent team try, finished by Vinnie Anderson from Smith's pass, but Owen had the final say with four minutes to play, taking Chase's pass to force his way over.

His coach, Ian Millward, praised the way he had recovered from two early errors. "That could have affectedhis confidence, but he handled it really well," he said.

For Salford, it was a night of anti-climax, with a scoreline that would not have been out of place on a bad day at The Willows and a gate of5,242 – obviously affected by the weather – that was only a modestimprovement on last season'saverage.

Salford: Patten; Broughton, Gleeson, Moon, Williams; Holdsworth, Smith; James, Godwin, Jewitt, Ashurst, Anderson, Wild.Subs used: Howarth, Paleaaesina, Adamson, Gledhill.

Castleford: Owen; Dixon, Arundel, McGoldrick, Griffin; Chase, Orr; Emmitt, Milner, Walker, Mitchell, Holmes, Jones.Subs used: Clarke, Ferres, Massey, Nash.

Referee: T Alibert (France)