|Betfred Super League play-off eliminator|
|Salford Red Devils (14) 22|
|Tries: McCarthy, Bibby, Hastings Goals: Inu 5|
|Castleford Tigers (0) 0|
Salford Red Devils are within one win of Super League’s Grand Final after beating Castleford Tigers in their play-off eliminator.
Salford will face the loser of Friday’s semi-final between St Helens and Wigan, with the winner on 4 October heading to Old Trafford eight days later.
Tigers’ hopes of a second Grand Final appearance in three seasons are over.
Tyrone McCarthy and Jake Bibby scored first-half tries and Jackson Hastings added a solo effort late on.
After a close opening to the contest, the Red Devils – who were unfancied by many pundits at the start of the campaign but ended up finishing third – took control with two tries in three first-half minutes.
McCarthy grounded a low kick for the game’s first points and, after a lengthy check by the video referee, Bibby was adjudged to have remained in play as he touched the ball down in the left corner.
The visitors, who lost to Leeds at Old Trafford in 2017, looked certain to get a try in response but Salford full-back Niall Evalds produced a superb chase and tackle to deny Jordan Rankin.
A strong Salford defensive effort kept Castleford scoreless, and fittingly it was influential half-back Hastings – in his final home outing for the Red Devils before joining Wigan in 2020 – who jinked his way through the Tigers’ back line to wrap up victory.
The first of this season’s Grand Finalists will be confirmed when St Helens and Wigan, who finished first and second in the table after 29 games, meet on Friday.
The loser of that match will have home advantage against Salford in the second semi-final.
Salford head coach Ian Watson told BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra:
“I’m over the moon. The way we went about the game and played it – we played good wet-weather football in the first half.
“We got a bit sloppy but once Niall made the try-saving tackle, we refocused and got back on it. To ‘nil’ Castleford is a great achievement.
“I’m not nervous [about the semi-final]. I’m excited. We all know our role and everyone sticks together. Hopefully we can turn up with a good performance next week and get there [to the Grand Final].”
Castleford head coach Daryl Powell told BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra:
“It was a flat performance from us. It was pretty disappointing. To go 12-0 down so early in the game takes the edge off you.
“We’ve shown a lot of courage and character but ultimately we’ve lacked a little bit of quality and we’ve had too many of our better players sat down watching games this year.
“I have to credit to all of our players and the way they’ve worked. After the injuries we’ve had, it’s been a pretty big effort from our club. We need to work hard and go again.”
Salford: Evalds; Sio, Welham, Bibby, Inu; Lolohea, Hastings; Mossop, Tomkins, Dudson, Jones, Griffin, McCarthy.
Interchanges: Lussick, Flanagan, Walker, Burke.
Castleford: Rankin; Clare, Minikin, Blair, Eden; Trueman, Mata’utia; Watts, McShane, Millington, Holmes, Clarkson, Massey.
Interchanges: Milner, Cook, O’Neill, Smith.
Referee: Ben Thaler
Article courtesy of BBC Sport