Justin Carney scored two tries on his return to Castleford as Salford earned a hard-fought 32-16 victory in a bruising Super League clash.
Carney left the Tigers for the Red Devils on a season-long loan under a cloud and he was in the spotlight just five minutes in after a set-to with Nathan Massey resulted in him being sent to the sin-bin.
But the Australian winger kept his cool after returning to the field, scoring a brace to help Salford secure their first win at Castleford since 2004.
In-form centre Josh Griffin also crossed twice after Greg Johnson’s opener and Gareth O’Brien enjoyed a perfect afternoon with the boot, while Denny Solomona ended on the losing side despite his hat-trick.
All eyes were on Carney on his first trip back to the Mend-A-Hose Jungle and it did not take long for emotions to boil over as the big winger shoved Massey in the face after a tackle and was sin-binned.
That altercation set the tone for a fiery opening and after Craig Kopczak was caught by a high tackle, O’Brien opening the scoring with a long-range penalty.
Salford kept Castleford scoreless while Carney was off the field and he returned just in time to prevent Solomona touching down in the corner with a good tackle.
A big hit by O’Brien stopped Luke Dorn in his tracks close to the line as the Red Devils continued to defend heroically but they suffered a blow when stand-off Robert Lui was forced from the field by injury.
Castleford turned down the opportunity to level the scores from a penalty and they were left to rue that decision as soon after a Logan Tomkins offload set Tommy Lee free and the hooker found Junior Sa’u, who neatly offloaded for Johnson to finish.
The physical nature of the first half continued with another scuffle following a tackle by Gadwin Springer on his first appearance of 2016 while Jake Webster received treatment in backplay for a facial cut.
The Tigers needed a score before the break and they got it when Gale’s brilliant long pass allowed Solomona to touch down for his seventh try of the season.
Gale missed his conversion attempt from out wide but he was on target with the final act of the opening 40 minutes following a high tackle on Matt Cook.
Solomona was denied a second try after Gale’s pass was adjudged forward and there was more disappointment to follow for Castleford when Dorn hobbled off.
Griffin ensured the Tigers’ afternoon went from bad to worse by defying the odds to get the ball down over the line and O’Brien nailed his touchline conversion to give Salford an eight-point lead.
Carney temporarily silenced the boo-boys with a try in the corner from a pass by O’Brien, who made no mistake again from out wide.
But the home fans soon found their voices as Paul McShane fielded a kick close to his own line, broke upfield and gave Ryan Hampshire the chance to set Solomona clear for his second.
The prolific winger squeezed over in the corner to complete his treble but Gale missed the chance to bring Castleford within two points of Salford and a Ben Murdoch-Masila interception halted the hosts’ momentum.
That proved to be a huge play as two minutes later Griffin crossed in the corner to seal a hard-fought win for the Red Devils, with Carney chasing a long kick to touch down in the dying seconds and rub salt into Castleford wounds.