De­feat leaves Sal­ford doomed to Qual­i­fiers

Manchester Evening News - - SPORT - By TOM BRAMWELL

AT the end of a week in which for­mer owner Mar­wan Koukash fi­nanced the sign­ing Sal­ford hope will pre­serve their Bet­fred Su­per League sta­tus, the club was math­e­mat­i­cally con­signed to a spot in the Su­per 8 Qual­i­fiers with de­feat to Castle­ford.

Aussie Jack­son Hast­ings is ex­pected to ar­rive within the next seven days, and with Niall Evalds close to a re­turn to fit­ness, there will be a spine around which Ian Wat­son and his staff can build in that stage of the com­pe­ti­tion, which is ul­ti­mately a bat­tle against rel­e­ga­tion.

Be­fore then, the fo­cus will be get­ting fit bod­ies on the field con­sis­tently, with the no­tice­able fa­tigue of a small squad strug­gling with in­juries as much a fac­tor in this de­feat to Castle­ford as the lack of co­he­sion in at­tack.

But over­all, it rep­re­sented a sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment from last week’s com­pre­hen­sive de­feat to Hull KR.

“We spoke about a re­sponse,” said coach Wat­son. “In­di­vid­u­ally and col­lec­tively as a team, mak­ing sure we were bet­ter, mak­ing sure we were set­ting our­selves up go­ing for­ward.

“We wanted a per­for­mance and we got it. We had 17 play­ers and that’s it. We’ve got two play­ers who shouldn’t be play­ing and they’re get­ting jabbed up. We’re in a tough sit­u­a­tion.

“The boys have done out­stand­ing, with the ef­fort they’ve shown and their com­mit­ment to it, es­pe­cially on the back of a tough re­sult last week at Hull KR.”

It was pre­dom­i­nantly a tight game in which Sal­ford had the bet­ter of the open­ing ex­changes, muscling up hard in de­fence and forc­ing reg­u­lar er­rors from a Tigers side renowned for their abil­ity with ball in hand.

Yet de­spite hav­ing the bulk of the pos­ses­sion, the Red Devils of­fered lit­tle threat close to the line and found them­selves be­hind af­ter half an hour when a kick charged down into Paul McShane’s face bounced up kindly for the vis­it­ing hooker and he found Jake Web­ster, who strolled over un­touched.

Sal­ford hit back just be­fore the break when Jake Bibby touched down a short grub­ber kick from Rob Lui.

Ed Cham­ber­lain - again selected at full­back - con­verted spec­tac­u­larly from the touch­line.

That meant the scores were level at half-time, but they wouldn’t be for long, Cas cross­ing twice in five min­utes through Michael Shen­ton and Web­ster.

Kieran Gill then ac­ro­bat­i­cally touched down a long pass from Quentin Laulu-To­ga­gae.

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