Rugby League: Reid exposes Castleford's frailties

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The Independent Online
Castleford. . . 20

Salford. . . . .24

Castleford, popular and perennial favourites finally to bring some worthwhile prizes to Yorkshire, have rarely looked less likely to win anything than they did in their first home match of the new season yesterday.

On a day when the mighty crashed throughout the First Division, none came down to earth with a more resounding thud than Castleford in the first 25 minutes at Wheldon Road.

Giving an object lesson in keeping the ball alive and backing up the runner, Salford raced into an 18-0 lead and would have been full value for an even more one-sided scoreline.

Their stand-off, Wayne Reid, began the damage as early as the second minute with a run which exposed, for the first but certainly not the last time, the frailty of Castleford's tackling and John Gilfillan was in support to score.

After 10 minutes, some admirably sustained handling brought Salford to the Castleford line again and David Young's excellent pass out of the tackle sent his former Leeds team-mate, Phil Ford, in for the try.

The powerful running of Ged Stazicker, and the ability of first him and then Gilfillan to get the ball away, put Jason Critchley away for the third.

Martin Birkett kicked all three conversions, but Castleford were fortunate not to be further behind, Reid having knocked on with the line open and then being denied another try by the decision that Ian Blease's pass had been forward.

Castleford, who made what now seems a misguided decision to play no warm-up minutes before the season proper, finally seemed to be getting into their stride when Tawera Nikau's shrewd pass released Tony Smith for a try which Lee Crooks converted.

A penalty from Crooks and a second try from Smith, after Nikau had kicked intelligently, brought Castleford, almost despite themselves, within range.

When Mike Ford scored after 54 minutes and Crooks landed the equalising goal it seemed Castleford might get away with their earlier sins.

But justice was served with a deciding try which summed up, in its own simple way, the difference between the sides. Salford played the ball just short of the Castleford line and Blease's run was more determined than the defence that met it.

A penalty from Crooks 12 minutes from time cancelled Birkett's conversion, but Castleford could not catch up again and nor did they deserve to.

Castleford: Steadman; Ellis, Blackmore, Anderson (Boothroyd, 56), Wray; Smith, M Ford; Crooks, Southernwood, Sampson (Sykes 28, Sampson 66, Sykes 79), Morrison, Irwin, Nikau.

Salford: Birkett; Critchley, Gilfillan, Williams, P Ford; Reid, Cruickshank; Young, Lee, Stazicker, Hansen (Donegan 28, Hansen 56), Blease, Bradshaw. Substitute not used: Fairclough.

Referee: J Connolly (Wigan).

Brimah Kebbie marked his home debut for Bradford Northern by scoring two tries for the third successive game to help them recover to beat Leigh 23-10.