Castleford Tigers were made to work hard to keep their unbeaten home record as they beat Salford Red Devils 24-20 in front of 7,750 at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle.
After opening up an early 12-0 lead Daryl Powell’s men had to battle all the way to the final hooter to earn their two points.
Cas got off to a bright start as early pressure brought a seventh minute opening try as Nathan Massey raced onto Jake Trueman’s well judged grubber kick to touch the ball down.
Cue big celebrations from the Tigers one club man who signed a contract in the week and is a rare scorer. With Jordan Rankin adding the conversion it was 6-0.
The lead was doubled on 19 minutes as Cas were presented with a gift. There was little danger as visiting full-back Niall Evalds fielded Paul McShane’s kick and passed inside to Kris Welham. But the centre slipped and dropped the ball and Rankin pounced to score the easiest try he will get this season. Rankin added the easy goal to make it 12-0.
Cas were then guilty of over confidence as they aimed to pass the ball around in tricky windy conditions and invited pressure with errors.
Salford took advantage when a straight forward looking left edge move was finished off by Jake Bibby for a try that went unconverted.
The Tigers had to work hard to keep their eight-point advantage to the break as they played the last 10 minutes of the half with 12 men following the sin-binning of McShane after he threw the ball at Adam Walker after taking exception to something he did in a tackle on Peter Mata’utia.
The Red Devils did go close just before half-time, but Joey Lussick was held up over the line and the threatening set ended with winger Darrell Olpherts putting his foot in touch.
A strong start to the second half when restored to 13 saw the Tigers exert some strong pressure with Trueman and McShane kicks forcing goal-line drop-outs.
A try came when the best move of the game was finished off by Greg Eden in the left corner following some slick handling and a cleverly timed pass by Mata’utia.
With Rankin adding a touchline conversion it was 18-4, but it was not the cue for Cas to run away with the game.
Salford hit back as Jansin Turgut swerved his way over after shrugging off a tackler close to the home line.
Joey Lussick goaled and more Red Devils pressure followed with Ben Nakubuwai held up over the line before there was no stopping Lussick on a determined drive from the next play.
With Lussick goaling again there were only two points between the teams, but Cas stepped up a gear again to grab control for a spell.
They looked unlucky when Eden was denied a second try by an obstruction decision. Trueman then forced another drop-out and only desperate defence kept Junior Moors out with the big Tigers man deemed to be held up over the line.
From the next play, though, Jesse Sene-Lefao raced over for what turned out to be the match winning try.
Although Rankin hit the post with an easy conversion he was able to slot over a penalty soon after to put the Tigers 24-16 ahead.
There was still another twist with the visitors going over for their fourth try through Bibby after a Jackson Hastings offload, but Lussick was unable to goal and Salford were unable to score again.
Cas saw out the closing stages well to make it five wins from six matches so far in 2019.
Scorers - Castleford: Tries Massey, Rankin, Eden, Sene-Lefao; goals Rankin 4. Salford: Tries Bibby 2, Turgut, Lussick; goals Lussick 2.
Castleford Tigers: Mata’utia; Minikin, Foster, Shenton, Eden; Trueman. Rankin; Watts, McShane, Moors, Sene-Lefao, Holmes, Massey. Subs: Milner, Cook, Egodo, Clarkson.
Salford Red Devils: Evalds; Olpherts, Welham, Bibby, Sio; Lui, Hastings; Murray, Lussick, Dudson, Jones, Turgut, Flanagan. Subs: Walker, Nakubuwai, Tomkins, Griffin.
Referee: Robert Hicks.