Salford City Reds’ first match in their new Salford City Stadium ended in disappointment as Castleford Tigers ran out 24-10 winners on a frozen Saturday night in Barton.
The Tigers made the best of the awful blizzard conditions, scoring four tries to the Reds’ two and start their 2012 Super League campaign in the best possible fashion.
Pre-match was dominated by the weather with heavy snow hitting the Greater Manchester area hard, and any hopes of an expansive, free-flowing game diminished soon into the game as both sides dug deep.
Reds scrum-half Matty Smith provided the match’s first piece of real quality when he took the ball from hooker Stuart Howarth – on in the eighth minute for the injured Wayne Godwin – and threw a great dummy before strolling in from thirty metres for the first score in the Reds’ new home.
However, Castleford levelled soon afterwards when 2011 Man of Steel Rangi Chase produced a lovely delayed pass to put full-back Richard Owen in to score, and they extended their lead soon after the break through winger Josh Griffin.
Chase, a thorn in the Reds’ side all evening, then produced a perfectly weighted kick for Adam Milner to gather and touch down late in the second half, putting the Tigers three scores ahead and effectively ending the game as a contest.
Salford continued to battle on and got some reward with arguably the try of the round. A lovely flowing move involving half-backs Daniel Holdsworth and Matty Smith, and full-back Luke Patten, was brilliantly finished by new-signing Matty Ashurst.
More great work from the impressive Chase allowed Owen to rubber-stamp the victory late on with his second try of the match.
Salford coach Phil Veivers, taking charge of his first Super League game as head coach, felt the wintry conditions were crucial in the outcome.
“It was a bit frustrating. The conditions were the same for both sides but Castleford seemed to play them a little better than us”, he told reporters yesterday.
“They controlled the ruck a lot better than we did and came through the middle pretty good. They won the arm wrestle and inched their way up the field.”
He admitted that while there were plenty of positives for his side to take out of the game, there was still a lot to work on.
“There is some optimism. We scored two nice tries, had one disallowed in the first half and had four maybe five opportunities to score more points but we weren’t clinical enough.
“They scored two tries from kicks and the other two through our right edge so we’ve plenty of work to do there.”
The Reds will hope to bounce back from this setback on Friday night as they face St. Helens at their new Langtree Park stadium.