Castleford Tigers hit back from 10 points down and hung on against a late comeback to return to winning ways away to Salford Red Devils.
Daryl Powell’s men were not at their best, but dug in to win 22-20 in a game between two teams missing many of their best players.
Cas did have Luke Gale and Junior Moors back from injury, but were still missing seven first teamers and gave academy product Ash Robson his debut on the left wing with another youngster, Will Maher, on the bench, against hosts missing star man Rangi Chase as well as fellow former Tigers favourite Weller Hauraki and 10 more players.
Teenager Robson responded to his surprise call-up by scoring a try with Ashley Gibson going over twice and Nathan Massey also scoring for the Tigers and Gale kicking three goals.
It was Salford who started the better with half-back Theo Fages going over for the opening try just four minutes in.
New Zealand outside back Kevin Locke added a second home score after taking advantage of a lucky bounce off Jordan Tansey and Salford looked to have put all their off field problems behind them as they had shot out in a 10-0 lead after 17 minutes.
But the Tigers showed they had the stomach for a fight this week as they defended well for the rest of the half and hit back with Gibson, playing at centre, charging over for the first of his tries after taking Adam Milner’s pass.
Gale’s goal made it 10-6 and it looked like Cas had scored again soon after as skipper Michael Shenton got over the line only to be somehow held up by Greg Johnson.
Salford then went close through Scott Taylor, who was unable to ground the ball over the line, before the Tigers bagged their second try right on half-time, Gibson going over again from Shenton’s quick thinking crossfield kick. Gale could not add the touchline goal, but his team walked in level at the break.
The first score after the break was always going to be important and it went to Cas when Gale sent Massey charging through a gap for a try goaled by Gale.
Salford tried to hit back as Oliver Gildart almost touched down Locke’s grubber kick and made a 60-metre break to keep Cas on their toes.
But it was the Tigers who scored next when Robson followed up a speculative kick from stand-off Ben Roberts and took advantage of Salford hesitancy to mark his debut with a try that turned out to be the winner.
Gale’s third goal extended their lead to 22-10, but it was not all over as within four minutes the hosts scored as Gildart raced clear and sent Locke over for his second try.
There was plenty more drama with delays as first Wayne Godwin went off injured to be followed by referee George Stokes.
Chris Leatherbarrow took over the whistle and Salford continued to fight as Scott Taylor went over for a try, goaled by Johnson to make for a nervy finish.
There was just over a minute left, but when Tansey fielded Fages’ kick over the top it was all over and Castleford had their victory, which was a bit ugly maybe, but could turn out to be so crucial in their top eight bid.
Scorers - Salford: Tries Fages, Locke 2, Taylor; goals Locke, Johnson. Castleford: Tries Gibson 2, Massey, Robson; goals Gale 3.
Salford Red Devils: Evalds; Locke, Caton-Brown, Gildart, Johnson; Fages, G Griffin; Taylor, Godwin, Tasi, Hansen, Forster, Greenwood. Subs: Lannon, Hood, Morley, Gee.
Castleford Tigers: Tansey; Clare, Gibson, Shenton, Robson; Roberts, Gale; Lynch, Moore, Wheeldon, Holmes, Millington, Massey. Subs: Milner, Jewitt, Moors, Maher,
Referee: George Stokes (Chris Leatherbarrow)