Daryl Powell had no complaints after watching Castleford lose their 100 per cent record in the Betfred Super League thanks to a late drop goal at Salford.
Gareth O’Brien’s golden-point drop goal kept the Red Devils in Super League last October and the full-back produced another important one-pointer to clinch a 13-12 victory for his side at the AJ Bell Stadium.
Tries from scrum-half Luke Gale and winger Greg Minnikin had given the Tigers a 12-4 lead early in the second half but Salford gradually brought themselves level and went in front for the first time four minutes from the end with O’Brien’s drop goal.
“We were poor,” admitted Powell. “I don’t think we ever really got our game together. It was our first real tight assignment and we came up short.
“I thought Salford were superb, they defended well and came up with a smart game plan.
“We didn’t deserve to win. We tried to play the conditions way too much. It was a bit of an arm wrestle and they just edged it.
“There’s quite a few lessons for us to learn. We need to move on and some players have some wising up to do.
“We were pretty unrecognisable today, although it doesn’t help when you are having to move people around.”
Powell was forced to reshuffle his team after losing Minnikin to a shoulder injury in the act of scoring his try, and centre Jake Webster, who went off with a head knock.
Castleford will face an anxious wait to discover the extent of the injury to Minnikin, who is Super League’s leading try scorer this season with nine touchdowns.
“We think his shoulder came out and went back in pretty quickly,” Powell said. “Hopefully it’s not too bad.”
While O’Brien emerged as Salford’s drop-goal hero and s econd rower Ben Murdoch-Masila scored two tries on his first home appearance of the season , coach Ian Watson was delighted with the team work.
“Someone has just asked if anyone else can drop goals in this club,” Watson said. “While he’s knocking them over, he’s happy to take that pressure on.
“He’s stepped up to the fore but I think, for the bigger picture, the team executed everything we spoke about during in the week.
“I thought our middles were phenomenal against a pack that teams have been struggling to handle.
“All season so far we’ve been really good in parts and not been seeing those games off but that has set a little bit of a standard, that we can mix it with the best teams.”
Salford achieved their third win of the season without the services of new signing Todd Carney, the 2010 international player of the year who was left waiting to make his debut after being an unused substitute.
Watson says he was loath to make changes to his half-back pairing of Michael Dobson and Robert Lui and finally made his mind up not to introduce Carney w hen the drop goal went over.
“At 12-10 I was thinking about putting him on because he could give Castleford something different to look at but Rob Lui and ‘Dobbo’ were already in the game at that time and to pull them out would have been a tough call,” Watson said.
“It was one of those decisions I had to make and when ‘Gaz’ put the drop goal over I pulled him and I’ve just spoken to him and he’s good. He’s just pleased we got the win.”