Super League: Salford Red Devils beat Castleford Tigers 26-16 to boost their top-five hopes
|Betfred Super League|
|Salford (18) 26|
|Tries: Evalds, Mossop, Hastings, Olpherts Goals: Inu 5|
|Castleford (16) 16|
|Tries: Smith, Minikin, Rankin Goals: Mata'utia 2|
Salford Red Devils drew level on points in Super League with Castleford Tigers with a four-try 26-16 victory against their fellow top-five hopefuls.
Ian Watson's side are now fifth, level with Tigers and Wigan on 18 points.
Just two points separated the teams after a ding-dong first 40 minutes, which featured fine solo tries for Jackson Hastings and Jordan Rankin.
The Red Devils added to their 18-16 advantage in the second period, notably through Derrell Olpherts' score.
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The battle to join the two standout clubs in 2019 - St Helens and Warrington - in the top-five play-off picture at the end of the regular season remains wide open with almost two-thirds of the season gone.
With this win Salford showed their credentials, galvanised by Hastings' partnership with hooker Joey Lussick and fellow half Robert Lui, and the try-scoring knack of full-back Niall Evalds.
Evalds showed pace to outstrip the covering full-back for the opener, while Lee Mossop's short-ball crash-over exploited gaps in the defence.
Castleford coach Daryl Powell's concerns will again focus on their inconsistency, as they enjoyed patches in the game particularly in the lead up to half-time.
Smart tries from Daniel Smith, who barged over, and Greg Minikin's clever finish out wide preceded Rankin's long-range intercept.
However, the Tigers defence in the opening part of the game allowed Salford to cut through their line at will, and they were in turn kept away from the goalline by their hosts in the second half.
Salford coach Ian Watson:
"We have put ourselves in a great position. It's what we worked hard for in pre-season and it's great to be in the top five.
"The league is outstanding at the moment because it's so close. There's a long way to go but, like London Broncos, we are proving a lot of people wrong at the moment.
"I thought we started in the right way. We have focused on starting the game well. Our errors led to their tries but overall it was really pleasing from us."
Castleford coach Daryl Powell:
"We can't find accuracy and fluency in attacking positions to score points which is something we've been able to do in the past.
"We just have to keep going. There are some players who are not good enough to be in the team at the moment. Players have got to find their best form.
"As disappointing as it is, it's a reality. As a team we are not flowing. We have got to hang tough and find a way back."
Salford Red Devils: Evalds; Bibby, Inu, Welham, Olpherts; Lui, Hastings; Mossop, Tomkins, Dudson, Jones, Lannon, McCarthy
Interchanges: Walker, Burke, Flanagan, Lussick
Castleford Tigers: Mata'utia; Clare, Minikin, Blair, Egodo; Trueman, Rankin; Watts, McShane, Smith, Sene-Lefao, McMeeken, Massey
Interchanges: Millington, Milner, Moors, Cook