Salford 8  Castleford 36 Match Report

A concluding fifteen minutes, totally unrepresentative of the rest of the game, saw Castleford lift the College Development Academy Championship Trophy, after a strongly contested Grand Final with our own Salford Red Devils, at Leigh Miners, yesterday afternoon, in front of a most significant attendance of fans from both sides.

With the League Leaders Trophy, already under their belt, for the Salford lads, this was the termination of a most wonderfully impressive season, in which they had won all but one of their fixtures, including their one previous encounter with Castleford – a 22-4 home victory, early in the season. 

Whilst the Tigers had progressed to the Final, by beating Barrow, it had been a 10-6, semi-final win over Warrington – the one team to have taken points off them – which booked the Salford players this first Grand Final appearance, since the inception of this competition.

Because the return league fixture at Castleford had been postponed and never got played, that home game was the only indication as to how the Final might evolve, but in the event proved to be of no value at all, as the Tigers’ line-up had changed considerably with the justifiable inclusion of a number of individuals, who had joined the club on professional terms.

Although it was Castleford who opened the scoring, on six minutes, with an unconverted try, the Red Devils replied ten minutes later with a try from prop, Matt Gardner, close to the posts.  Scrum half, Riley Makin’s successful conversion put them in front, at 6-4, a lead which they were able to enjoy for the next ten minutes.

The physical prowess of the Yorkshire side, however, was evident for all to see, and two tries, the second of which was converted, gave them a half-time, six-point advantage, at 8-14, following Makin’s 39th minute penalty, from 35 metres out.

The first twenty minutes of the second half was probably the Reds’ best chance of securing a victory, with periods of good field position and sufficient ball possession to set up waves of attack.  Whether it was the fact that they felt that they needed to play catch-up football, or just that the occasion itself got to them, but their normal composure and clinical finishing seemed to desert them, and hurried, and forced, passes sadly brought each one to an end.

Having to compete with opponents bigger, stronger, and faster than themselves is considerably wearing and energy-sapping, so much so that as the game wore on momentum swung towards the Tigers once more, and once they had extended their lead by a try in the left corner, they were able to follow this up with others, as fatigue and perhaps a little dejection set in, in the Red Devils’ ranks.

Not that this should in any way detract from their magnificent season, as a whole, nor their achievement in reaching the lofty heights of the Grand Final, as coach, Danny Barton, succinctly puts it:

“It has been a fantastic season, right through, for them.  They have been the most consistent side in the competition, all year, with eleven victories out of twelve games.  Throughout, they have shown the utmost commitment  and have deserved all that they have achieved.  Quite simply they have been the best group of players I have seen, at this level and it has been a pleasure to have coached them.”

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