Salford Red Devils 14 Castleford Tigers 6: Andy Last suffers from coach killers ahead of big interview

Throughout his five-week spell as interim head coach, Andy Last has maintained that the Castleford Tigers players will decide whether he gets the permanent job.

In his last audition before his formal interview on Friday, there were enough coach killers to leave Last uneasy about his prospects.

Castleford did not lack for effort at Salford Red Devils but looked every inch a team that had scored just 90 points in the opening eight rounds and finished with only Greg Eden's early try to show for their endeavour.

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The Tigers made error after error and only stayed in the contest thanks to sheer will.

There can be no doubt that Castleford have been playing for Last but sport deals in the currency of points and the Tigers have only two wins to show for his six games in charge to date.

After seeing off Wakefield Trinity last week to ease their early-season relegation concerns, Thursday's performance showed how far Castleford are from competing for a top-six place.

Salford were far from their free-flowing best but needed only two tries from Brodie Croft and Shane Wright to see off the blunt Tigers.

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Seven days on from a drab contest at Wheldon Road against Wakefield, it was another tough watch involving Castleford.

Salford’s Brodie Croft runs in for a try. (Photo: Alex Whitehead/’s Brodie Croft runs in for a try. (Photo: Alex Whitehead/
Salford’s Brodie Croft runs in for a try. (Photo: Alex Whitehead/

It was the kind of performance that gives a coach a sleepless night, let alone one preparing for a make-or-break interview.

The England assistant could hardly have wished for a better start, Eden opening the scoring just two and a half minutes in after one-time Tiger Marc Sneyd caught Alex Mellor with a high shot to invite Castleford into home territory.

Kenny Edwards created the opportunity with a classy long pass as he was going to ground and Eden added the finishing touches in the corner.

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Gareth Widdop – back in the team after missing the last two games through illness – nailed the touchline conversion to make it the perfect start but errors soon began to creep in.

Gareth Widdop returned for Castleford at the AJ Bell Stadium. (Photo: Alex Whitehead/ Widdop returned for Castleford at the AJ Bell Stadium. (Photo: Alex Whitehead/
Gareth Widdop returned for Castleford at the AJ Bell Stadium. (Photo: Alex Whitehead/

Widdop atoned for an error from the restart with a vital tackle on Sam Stone and Croft was guilty of sending a grubber kick dead following a mistake by Eden from a poor Jacob Miller pass.

The Tigers kept the Red Devils honest at the other end, Mellor brought down just short of the tryline by a desperate last-ditch tackle.

With Castleford working hard to cover their errors and shut down Salford's ball movement, the home team turned to Sneyd to find a way through.

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The scrum-half thought he had scored after following up his own kick, only for the video referee to spot a knock-on.

The game was littered with errors. (Photo: Alex Whitehead/ game was littered with errors. (Photo: Alex Whitehead/
The game was littered with errors. (Photo: Alex Whitehead/

Salford's frustrations continued when Joe Burgess got a flying finish wrong under pressure from Niall Evalds after Eden dropped Sneyd's cross-field kick.

Mellor went close again but it was a matter of time before Castleford's sloppy errors caught up with them.

The Red Devils eventually found a chink in the Tigers' armour four minutes from half-time, Kallum Watkins putting Ryan Brierley away down the right and the full-back kicking back inside for Croft to finish.

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Sneyd knocked over the conversion from in front to make it 6-6 but they had to withstand a late raid by Castleford after making a mistake from the restart.

Eden appeared set to score in the corner again, only to put a foot in touch with Salford stretched.

If Last was happy with Castleford's heart and commitment in the first half, he would have demanded more respect for the ball as he addressed his players during the interval.

His team did not get the message, Evalds spilling Sneyd's kick to the corner before Edwards got away with a horror pass close to his own line thanks to a knock-on by Chris Atkin.

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But for a try-saving tackle by Sneyd on Evalds, the Tigers would have taken full advantage of their good fortune.

Moments later, the half-back demonstrated his creative ability to send over Wright with a nice cut-out pass close to the line.

In keeping with the rest of the game, the try stemmed from an error by Eden from a loose Salford pass near halfway.

The Red Devils took a six-point lead into the final quarter, which had the look of a decisive advantage against a clunky Castleford attack.

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The Tigers had Salford rocking in the closing stages – going closest when Adam Milner was held up agonisingly short after collecting his own kick – but their hopes were over when Snyed knocked over a 30-metre penalty for a tackle off the ball by the Castleford forward.

Salford Red Devils: Brierley, Sio, Cross, Costello, Burgess, Croft, Sneyd, Dupree, Ackers, Vuniyayawa, Watkins, Stone, Partington. Substitutes: Ormondroyd, Atkin, Addy, Wright.

Castleford Tigers: Evalds, Faraimo, Broadbent, Turner, Eden, Widdop, Miller, Lawler, McShane, Massey, Edwards, Mellor, Milner. Substitutes: Griffin, Smith, Hall, Johnson.

Referee: Aaron Moore.

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