Hast­ings guides Sal­ford to brink of Grand Fi­nal

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Football - By Ross Hep­pen­stall at the AJ Bell Sta­dium

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.

Sal­ford

Castle­ford

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