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Castleford coach Daryl Powell was delighted to see makeshift scrum-half Paul McShane fulfil his prediction as he guided the Tigers to an impressive 32-18 win over Salford in the sixth round of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup.
Powell turned to his second-choice hooker as the replacement for Luke Gale when the acting captain went down with a hamstring injury and he went on to justify his selection with a man-of-the-match performance.
In tandem with prop forward Grant Millington, McShane formed a potent half-back pairing which enabled Powell's patched-up team to twice come from behind and secure an ultimately convincing win.
"I thought he was exceptional," Powell said. "I actually said as soon as we put him there, if we win, he'll get man of the match. He's just a composed player.
"For me I remember at times when I played in a different position, how excited I got. It brings something else and he showed that today.
"Grant Millington was our best player last week when he played a different position. We had two forwards playing half-back, half-backs are not as valuable as they think they are, are they?"
Powell was forced into a late re-shuffle for the second week in a row when Luke Dorn pulled out in the warm-up, which meant a debut for new signing Danny Tickle nine months on from his last match, but the coach was always confident in his players' ability.
"It's a good team," he said. "We had a few players playing out of position and we could have copped a fair bit of criticism for some of the selections but Paul McShane justified what we did.
"We looked great in the team run. We've had to change a couple of things with the way we play and credit to the guys for the way they went about their work. Their commitment, effort and attitude was a big plus for us today.
"It was really important that everybody dug in and we started to get just desserts because we've copped a fair bit of unfair stick recently when we've had 11 or 12 players on the sideline.
"We've got players coming in and finding their feet, today showed that there's fair bit of spirit in the club, it was a huge effort and a great win for us."
McShane scored one of his side's six tries and kicked four goals, while second rower Mike McMeeken touched down twice for the home side.
Salford twice held the lead courtesy of t wo first-half tries from centre Junior Sa'u and stand-off Robert Lui added another early in the second half but coach Ian Watson had no complaints over the result.
"We were beaten by a better team," he said. " We started off okay and scored the try but then kind of started to crumble from there.
"Cas had a real simple game and played too fast for us and probably bullied us.
"It hurts to be dominated that way. We've not been like that all season so we need to rectify that really quickly and prove we aren't a group that gets bullied.
"We'll have a little look at ourselves and rebuild because all our focus is on Super League obviously."
Former Brisbane Broncos winger Daniel Vidot had a quiet debut for the Red Devils but Watson expects him to make a big impact when he gains match fitness.
"He's not going to be match fit by any stretch of the imagination," he said. "He's been training with the boys for the last two weeks, it's going to take him time to get that match sharpness."
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