Rugby League: Cardinal sins of Hulme

Castleford 30 Salford 10
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The Independent Online
THE LOSS, in two different senses, of two players cost Salford any chance they might have had of reaching the semi-finals of the Silk Cut Challenge Cup.

Their winger, Darren Rogers, departed for Castleford this winter and, almost inevitably, he came back to haunt them with two of the tries that eliminated them. Equally significant was the temporary absences of David Hulme for two spells in the sin-bin, during which Castleford scored their first three tries.

The Salford coach, Andy Gregory, missed few opportunities to praise Hulme's professionalism during a troubled last season, but he walked a fine line around the play-the-ball and his stepping over it at Wheldon Road stacked the deck against his side yesterday.

Castleford did not make the most of their territorial advantage in the first half, although they used it to build an early four-point lead with two penalties from Danny Orr after offences in the tackle. The second of those saw Hulme, the Salford captain, ordered off for 10 minutes for holding down, although a similar indiscretion by Brad Davis at the other end allowed Steve Blakeley to narrow the lead.

Before Hulme could return, however, Salford were punished. Malcolm Alker fumbled at the play-the-ball and, from the scrum, Davis and Lee Harland worked the ball cleverly for Rogers to crash over.

Cas could have had further tries, notably when Bobby Thompson's tackle stopped Davis on the line, but the only other points in a first half largely spoilt by tense players making basic errors went Salford's way when Paul Highton was tackled high by Dale Fritz, Blakely landing the penalty.

Castleford had another inviting chance early in the second half, but Fritz's final pass to Richard Gay was forward. But they contained Salford comfortably enough, but could not answer their lead until Hulme achieved his rare distinction of being sin-binned for a second time, for knocking the ball loose after a tackle. Orr kicked his third goal and the Tigers were moving in for the kill.

They completed it when, after an hour of recurring pressure near the Salford line had yielded so little, Francis Maloney scored a long-range try out of nothing. Picking the ball up deep in his own half, he out-paced the defence on an 80-yard dash to the line. Orr added the goal and once more Hulme's absence had proved costly. With the captain still on his way back, Cas made absolutely sure of a place in the semi-finals, Orr doing remarkably well to slip a ball out of the tackle for Rogers to claim his second.

Gary Broadbent's try, converted by Blakely, was a reward for his typically brave effort, but it came far too late and Castleford underlined their superiority when Orr's run released Aaron Raper.

Ian Tonks's charge down field set up Davis for a try on his 31st birthday and Orr celebrated being named as man-of-the-match in all three rounds of the Cup so far by bringing his goal tally to five.

Castleford: Flowers, Gay, Eagar, Maloney, Rogers, Orr, Davis, Sampson, Raper, Sykes, Fritz, Harland, Vowles. Substitutes: Pickering, Tonks, Tallec, Wells.

Salford: Broadbent, Hayes, Thompson, Martin, Carige, Blakeley Crompton, Baynes, Alker, Southern, Smith, Hulme, Casey. Substitutes: J Faimalo, Svabic, Highton, Briggs.

Referee: S Cummings (Widnes).