Rugby League

Salford Advertiser - - CITY LIFE LOCAL - SAL­FORD ........................20 CASTLE­FORD ................22

SAL­FORD Red Devils ran their blood to wa­ter but were beaten by Castle­ford Tigers in a thriller at the AJ Bell Sta­dium.

Reds were down to the bare bones in terms of fit play­ers and picked up more in­juries in the game.

And it was catch­ing as even ref­eree Ge­orge Stokes limped off af­ter twist­ing his an­kle!

Those who did play did Sal­ford proud with a lion­hearted dis­play of guts and true grit. The home chal­lenge was led by Kevin Locke, who played his socks off.

The New Zealan­der scored two tries and was patched up but re­fused to come off.

Sal­ford were mag­nif­i­cent to a man but they fell just short in what was an en­ter­tain­ing con­test against the Tigers.

Sal­ford fans also saw a sparkling de­but from teenager Oliver Gil­dart, who has joined from Wi­gan on loan.

Gil­dart, the son of for­mer Wi­gan for­ward Ian Gil­dart, played in the cen­tre and showed he is very much one for the fu­ture.

As for Locke, it was won­der­ful to see the classy Kiwi com­ing to the fore with a five-star per­for­mance.

He was in­volved in ev­ery­thing, hav­ing started on the wing and then mov­ing to dummy-half.

Locke was even feed­ing the scrum at one stage and caused end­less prob­lems for the Tigers through­out the match.

Theo Fages gave Sal­ford the lead and the alert Locke dou­bled it with a su­perb try.

Castle­ford, how­ever, were level at the break as Sal­ford con­ceded a sec­ond try to Ash­ley Gibson on the stroke of half-time.

It proved costly as the Tigers started the sec­ond­half strongly, open­ing up a 12-point lead.

But this Sal­ford squad is made of strong stuff and came roar­ing back. In fact, the fight-back was a plea­sure to wit­ness.

Their task was made all the more dif­fi­cult by los­ing two hook­ers Wayne God­win and Liam Hood – along with Adrian Mor­ley – to in­jury. But Gil­dart made a won­der­ful sec­ond try for Locke and Scott Tay­lor added a fourth at the death.

Tay­lor also played big min­utes and Reds did not de­serve to fin­ish the game with noth­ing to show for their hero­ics ef­fort.

Coach Iestyn Har­ris was dis­ap­pointed to lose, but was rightly proud of his play­ers.

Har­ris said: ‘‘We gave ev­ery­thing and we showed tremen­dous spirit.

‘‘I could not have asked my play­ers for any more.

‘‘We were up against it from the start but com­peted for ev­ery­thing.

‘‘We have lost a few more play­ers, had play­ers play­ing out of po­si­tion – and could not buy a penalty.

‘‘We have had the least penal­ties in the whole com­pe­ti­tion.

‘‘Ian Wat­son, the as­sis­tant coach, was close to play­ing and could be closer by next week­end!

‘‘We had to play with­out a hooker and will have to as­sess the sit­u­a­tion.

‘‘Scott Tay­lor did 80 min­utes for us and that was a ter­rific ef­fort.

‘‘Gil­dart looked well. He im­pressed me at Wi­gan and he showed some nice touches. He will get bet­ter and we are thank­ful to Wi­gan for let­ting him come to us.

‘‘We will also have to have a look at Kevin Locke, he tweaked his groin and played 60 min­utes with an in­jury. Had we lost him, we would have lost our shape in to­tal. It is not easy for us but I can­not take any­thing away from the ef­fort put in.’’

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