Hastings guides Salford to brink of Grand Final
Not since the 1970s have Salford had a night like this. Never in the Super League era have the perennial strugglers experienced a season of such delight.
A comprehensive victory took Ian Watson’s assorted bunch of waifs and strays into a play-off semi-final and within 80 minutes of a maiden Grand Final appearance.
They will travel to St Helens or Wigan next Friday for the right to contest the title decider down the road at Old Trafford on Oct 12.
Watson said: “I thought it was a great performance, really professional. There is a collective desire in the group and a toughness, plus a belief that we’re a team who can beat anybody.”
Castleford themselves reached the Grand Final for the first time two years ago but froze against Leeds at Old Trafford and they were little better here, trailing 14-0 at the interval to a Salford side overflowing with energy and drive.
Their vibrancy was rewarded in the 11th minute when Tui Lolohea’s clever grubber kick was grounded by Tyrone Mccarthy. Three minutes later, Jake Bibby collected a fine pass from Man of Steel favourite Jackson Hastings and scored.
Bibby’s try appeared dubious but referee Ben Thaler awarded it on the field and video referee Robert Hicks verified it as a legitimate try.
Daryl Powell, the Castleford coach, said: “That was a pretty poor decision, for me. But Salford are good enough to get to the Grand Final and good luck to them.”
There was next to nothing from Castleford, although it took a brilliant cover tackle from Niall Evalds to deny Jordan Rankin midway through the first half. Watson said: “That challenge from Niall gave us confidence.”
Krisnan Inu, who converted both Salford’s tries, added a penalty before half-time and Hastings sealed the victory with a third Salford try in the second half.