Salford boss Paul Rowley admitted Castleford gave his side a fright before their late fightback fell short in a 26-22 Red Devils win.

Nene MacDonald scored the pick of the tries on his home debut for Salford while Sam Stone got two and Amir Bourouh added the other to get Rowley’s men off the mark with their first win of the new season.

Red Devils Castleford
Salford Red Devils players celebrating at the match on Sunday, February 25.

But though Salford never let slip the lead they took after going 12-0 up inside 13 minutes, they were left hanging on at the end as Liam Horne’s late try gave Castleford hope while the hosts were weakened by yellow cards for Jack Ormondroyd and then Kallum Watkins.

“I don’t know if you can feel grey, but I feel grey,” Rowley joked. “I thought it was a really good start, we controlled all of the ball and it would be nice if you could keep all the ball like that, but Cas came back with a couple of tries I thought were through individual errors.

Paul Rowley, photo credit: Steve McCormick

“Collectively I thought we were pretty good. We were a bit blunt in attack but it can be fixed. We’ve got a lot of new additions in key positions. If we don’t polish up the attack any way will always be hard fought. It’s not good for the ticker but we got there in the end.”

MacDonald provided the highlight just before half-time, charging forward to snatch Marc Sneyd’s high ball away from Luke Hooley to give Salford an 18-10 cushion at the break.

“I thought Nene was the shining star, the bit of quality on the field,” Rowley said. “Everybody works hard but he was different class and that try was the perfect example.”

Sneyd was pulling the strings throughout, while also kicking three conversions before a late penalty that proved crucial in keeping the game out of Castleford’s reach.

“As he gets older he shows no signs of slowing down,” Rowley said of the 33-year-old. “If you take Sneydy out of our team today we’d lack some serious direction. He’s a class player, he’s been class for many years now and he’s crucial to us.”

It was a second consecutive defeat for Castleford, but coach Craig Lingard was at least pleased with the way they responded to falling into an early hole.

“We started poorly,” he said. “We had one set of the game and then did seven, eight, nine sets defensively. We defended pretty well for the majority but if you give a team that much possession eventually the dam will break and that’s what happened.

“I’m disappointed we started the game as we did but I’m pleased with the way we came back and scored two tries before half-time.

“There’s loads of lessons we need to learn but I’m pleased with the effort, the application and the desire, and all those things we can control.”

You can watch the match highlights here.

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