Salford played host to high flying Castleford, who some rugby pundits were tipping to go all season unbeaten. But this Salford team is nobody's mugs. Ben Murdoch-Masila had a point to prove, and when he is in this form he is unstoppable...
Daryl Powell's army made the perfect start when Salford winger Greg Johnson was bamboozled by Luke Gale's high kick that swirled in the wind and the England scrum-half followed up to touch down for a fifth-minute try. Gale converted his own score but it quickly became apparent that the Tigers would be made to work much harder for any more spoils.
The Red Devils demonstrated a mean streak in defence and, with Robert Lui showing some nice touches with the ball, the visitors were forced to defend for long periods to keep their lead intact.
Castleford went another half-hour without conceding a point until pressure finally told when Lui got second-rower Ben Murdoch-Masila romping through a gap in their defence for the first of his two tries. Ben was having the game of his life, he was unstoppable and the Castleford defence could not handle him.
O'Brien was unable to add the conversion, though, and the Tigers thought they had increased their lead on the stroke of half-time when skipper Michael Shenton sent left winger Greg Eden over at the corner only for the try to be ruled by a blatant forward pass.
The visitors were not denied early in the second half, however, when Salford centre Junior Sa'u lost the ball in the tackle 40 metres from his own line and right winger Greg Minikin took Jake Webster's pass to force his way over for his ninth try of the season, despite the close attention of three defenders
Gale knocked over the touchline conversion to make it 12-4 but Minikin was forced out of the action after being hurt in the act of scoring and Salford produced a strong response to keep themselves well in the game. They were not going to be denied and were about to send a shock throughout the rugby league world.
Full-back Zak Hardaker, who Salford were interested in before the season, then failed to deal with a high kick and in the next set Murdoch-Masila juggled with the ball before getting into his stride 15 metres out from the line and proved unstoppable as he tore over for his second try, which O'Brien converted. Gareth O'Brien then knocked over a drop goal with three minutes to go, to seal a famous Salford win.
After the game I spoke with Ian Archer from Broughton who said, "That was brilliant Big Ben was brilliant today, and Dobbo and Lui were brilliant as well"... John Bolton, from Eccles, said "I cannot believe we have just beaten the best team in the league, I am going to sink some tonight!"
For me, it was my first day in the press box and I was sat next to so-called pundit Gary Schofield. I honestly felt like saying 'Finish bottom my arse...We will be top of the table at the end of the season'. And we still have Todd Carney to come. How coach Ian Watson is going to fit him in the team I don't really know but I suppose it is a great problem to have...
Match report by Simon Williams
Photos by Gareth Lyons
To see more of Gareth's photos from the game click here