Salford Red Devils Under 16’s finished the season with a 100% record following a 22-18 win against Castleford Tigers in front of a good crowd at the AJ Bell Stadium.
The Reds came into the game off the back of good performances and wins against the Midlands and the North East but knew that would have to up their performance again if they were to come out on top against the tier one academy side.
Tries from Lewis Clarke (2), Jamie Abram and Tyler Dupree, supported by the goal kicking of Kegan Brennan gave Salford the impetuous against the Tigers, and then solid defence saw the Reds hold out for a memorable win.
The Red Devils started the game quickly, and were held up over the line a number of times, before Dupree eventually opened up the scoring, the prop forward crashing over from close range to give the home side the lead.
This try, added to by the conversion from Brennan gave Salford the momentum and the Reds were soon camped of the Castleford try line again. Clever footwork from Abram sliced a hole in the Tigers defence, and the Stand Off burst through to continue Salfords fantastic start to the match.
The home side would cross once again in the first half, with Clarke latching on to the end of a clever kick and racing away to score, extending Salfords lead to 18-0. The Yorkshire side gave themselves a foothold in the game with a try before half-time, leaving the score at 18-4 at the break.
Castleford started the second half on the front foot, scoring 3 tries in quick succession to temporarily give them the lead, before Clarke crossed again to restore Salfords advantage to four points.
The Tigers responded well and continued to put Salford under intense pressure. The home side found themselves with their back against the wall as they found themselves down to 11 men, losing two men to the sin-bin. The remaining players were resolute in defence however and saw the game out to record a superb win against a side in the tier above them.
Head Coach Danny Barton was extremely pleased with the result and had this to say after the game;
“I was pleased for the boys, even though we didn’t put much pressure on them, I know they were putting a lot of pressure on themselves to perform well against a Super League side, so for them to do well against Castleford and beat a tier one team is brilliant for them.”
Barton was also very impressed with the way in which his side defending under huge pressure from the Tigers in second half;
“I was worried with the way we started the second, and then we steadied the ship. We must have gone to eleven men for at least seven or eight minutes and we didn’t concede in that time, so thats a fantastic effort and a fantastic commitment to each other”.
The win see’s the young devils finish the season with four wins out of four, and Barton is please with the progress shown by the team;
“Even though its only been a short season, we’ve bought in a lot of local lads from our talent pool and its all coming together really nicely now, we just want to kick on from here now, and hammer it in even more
Result: Salford Red Devils 22 Castleford Tigers 18
Salford Red Devils: Leech, Moseley, Clarke, Ratcliffe, Howarth, Abram, Brennan, Dupree, Moore, Whitehill, Defreitas, Frazer, Craig, Kirby, Walker, Cartridge, Mackie, Price, Harrison, Smith.