Rugby League: Salford inspired by Ford

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The Independent Online
Salford ........21 Castleford .....18

SPECTACULAR attacking rugby and some desperate last-ditch defence at the death earned Salford a win in a thrilling Stones Bitter Championship match at The Willows last night.

Castleford left out their British full-back, Graham Steadman, with an ankle injury that must be a worry with the World Cup final just a week away. They started the better, however, and got a quick try when smart handling in the back line sent St John Ellis in at the corner.

Salford's reply was breathtaking. Jason Critchley took the ball on his own 25 and sprinted away majestically to score as good an individual try as will be seen this season.

Lee Crooks's penalty put Castleford ahead but a fumble by Shaun Irwin allowed Salford to go ahead for the first time, more of the swift handling typical of the match setting up Phil Ford for the try.

Shaun Brown's penalty then put Salford further in front, but Mike Ford levelled the score before half- time, finding a hole in the home defence after a build-up which seemed to include a forward pass.

The end-to-end rhythm of a richly entertaining match was maintained after the interval with Tex Evans's 60-yard break setting up the position from which Phil Ford eventually stepped around Ellis for his 12th try of the season.

A penalty from Crooks brought Castleford back within two points after they had successfully weathered steady pressure from Salford. The same player was then at fault when his pass was intercepted by Wayne Reid and David Young scored the try that enabled Brown to put Salford eight points ahead.

Mark Lee, a lively influence at hooker, stretched that gap by a point with a drop-goal. Yet if Salford thought that was enough to seal it, they had to think again when Ellis scored another runaway try.

Salford: Gibson (Williams, 66), Evans, Critchley, Gilfillan, P Ford, Brown, Coleman, Young, Lee, Stazicker, Ackerman (Reid, 55), Bradshaw, Burgess.

Castleford: Middleton, Ellis, Blackmore, Smith (Anderson, 29),Nelson, Coyne (Smith, 73), M Ford, Crooks, Watson, Sampson, Morrison, Irwin (Ketteridge, 50), Nikau.

Referee: J Smith (Halifax).

Britain's poor timing, page 47