Salford City Reds 8 Castleford Tigers 15

Friday 17th June 2011
Salford City Reds 8 Castleford Tigers 15
Engage Super League
At The Willows
Attendance 3587

I had the headline all thought out – ‘Tigers get mauled by the Reds’ or ‘Tigers give Reds a good mauling’! In the end neither fitted the result as the Castleford Tigers narrowly defeated the Salford City Reds in a tight game which was what the bookies had predicted.

Following on from a successful Super League debut, it was time for more rugby league and like two weeks ago, the choice of home teams was the same – Crusaders, St Helens and Salford City Reds. While St Helens v Wigan Warriors was the top game, I discounted another trip to the Stobart Stadium and headed instead for Salford to cheer on the Castleford Tigers, my Dad’s home town team. Another reason was that Salford will be vacating The Willows at the end of the current season in favour of a newly-built 15,000 capacity City of Salford Stadium close to M60 junction 11 at Barton-upon-Irwell.

Even though Salford (9th position with 14 points from 17 games) were four points and two positions lower in the Super League table than Castleford (18 points from 16 games), the bookies couldn’t split the teams with one suggesting the winning margin could be as little as 2 points in favour of Salford. The Reds have been boosted by winning their last two games including victory at leaders Warrington Wolves last Sunday. The Tigers came from behind to draw 14-14 at home to the Wigan Warriers but have conceded 40 or more points in three of their last five games.

Form guide over… on to the ground itself.

The Willows is a traditional sports stadium and full of quirky character which sadly no longer fits into the modern fashion of all-seater stadiums. Orientated north–south, the main stand, named The Austin Truemanns Stand, runs the length of the touchline on the west side has three distinct sections named on the plan on the back of my ticket as ‘North Wing’, ‘Centre’ and ‘South Wing’. On half-way about ‘Centre’ there is a second tier named ‘Hi Level’ with TV gantry on top. From my vantage point in Block 8, opposite was a substantial covered terrace, known as The Shed, flanked by open terracing on one side and the changing rooms on the other. Behind the posts to my left was the North Stand, with several rows of terraces (away end) and the Family Stand seats behind. To the right was the shallow Willows Terrace with an entertainment complex behind.

As the game was not live on Sky, there was one notable difference to the game at St Helens two weeks ago – no video referee. So, the aid the referee with his decision making, there were two additional match officials, one positioned in each in-goal area.

As I said a tight game that was settled in Castleford’s favour with a late Danny Orr try scored with seven minutes remaining and subsequent conversion and later drop goal. With no points scoring during the opening 32 minutes I started to wonder if I would be seeing a very rare 0-0 draw. Reds led 4-2 at half-time, Cas took the lead with a converted try that was cancelled by an unconverted Reds try.