Salford Red Devils booked their place in the Super League Play-Off Semi-Finals for the first time with a convincing 22-0 victory over Castleford Tigers at the AJ Bell Stadium.
Ian Watson’s men are now only one win away from a trip to Old Trafford for the Grand Final. The second Eliminator was a must-win tie for both sides, with the winner going into next Friday’s semi-final and it was Salford who came out on top.
Tyrone McCarthy broke the deadlock early on, scoring the first try of the evening when he pounced onto Tui Lolohea’s grubber-kick to put the hosts ahead in the 11th minute.
The Red Devils got their second try just moments later. This time Jake Bibby latched onto a Jackson Hastings pass and crashed through the Castleford defence to get over the line.
Bibby was inches from touch when he grounded the ball, but after a thorough assessment from the video referee, the try was awarded giving Salford a 12-point lead.
Niall Evalds, who is so used to scoring tries, stopped a certain try when he pulled off what could be the tackle of the season, as he denied Jordan Rankin.
The fullback broke through the Red Devils defence and looked guaranteed to score on the left flank, but Evalds chased him down and tackled him into touch spectacularly.
Krisnan Inu went for the two-points when Castleford conceded a penalty, giving Ian Watson’s side a 14-point lead in the 30th minute.
Half-time: Salford Red Devils 14-0 Castleford Tigers
Castleford tried to get back into the game in the opening ten minutes of the second-half, but the Salford defence held firm and kept the Tigers at bay on their own try-line.
The Red Devils almost extended their lead when Joey Lussick’s offload was collected by George Griffin, but the visitors were able to stop the second-rower from adding to the score.
Daryl Powell’s men struggled to get out of their own half midway through the second period. First, Joey Lussick put a shot on Greg Eden to win possession, then moments later Castleford lost possession again through a forward pass.
Hastings crowned his last appearance at the AJ Bell Stadium for Salford with a try. The Man of Steel contender made a diagonal run through the Tigers’ defence and slid over the line in front of a bouncing South Stand.
Salford’s record-breaking season continues with a semi-final tie at either the league leaders St Helens, or at Wigan Warriors, where Salford can avenge last week’s defeat.
Full-time: Salford Red Devils 22-0 Castleford Tigers
Salford tries: McCarthy (11’), Bibby (14’), Hastings (72’)
Salford goals: Inu (5/5)
Salford Red Devils: Evalds, Sio, Welham, Bibby, Inu, Lolohea, Hastings, Mossop, Tomkins, Dudson, Jones, Griffin, McCarthy, Lussick, Flanagan, Walker, Burke.
Castleford Tigers: Rankin, Clare, Minikin, Blair, Eden, Trueman, Mata’utia-Leifi, Watts, McShane, Millington, Holmes, Clarkson, Massey, Milner, Cook, O’Neill, Smith
Referee: Ben Thaler
Image credit: Steve McCormick