Castleford are the favourites insists Wildcats boss Agar

Dean Collis
Dean Collis
0
Have your say

CASTLEFORD TIGERS remain favourites for victory in tomorrow’s Magic Weekend derby, Wakefield Trinity Wildcats boss Richard Agar claims. Tigers have been roaring all season and won 43-20 when the teams met at Wakefield on Good Friday, but are on a two-game losing run while Wildcats have won their last couple.

Agar, though, insisted Tigers are still playing well, despite defeats by Huddersfield Giants and Leeds Rhinos and he feels the pressure will be off his team at Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium.

“They aren’t in a slump,” Agar said of tomorrow’s opponents. “They are our rivals and it is a big derby game, but I have a lot of admiration for what they’ve achieved so far this season.

“The signs were there at the back end of last season. Their style of football is good and they are strong in the middle in particular.

“You can see the confidence in their team. They have put together a team and a style that suits them.”

But Agar said he has seen “gradual improvement” in his side in recent weeks and he’s convinced they are ready to give Tigers a game following morale-boosting wins over Hull and Widnes Vikings.

“We’ve been gradually stringing it together for longer periods,” he said. “We know we have still got to improve with the ball in the final third, but we know we will evolve and get better.”

Agar’s opposite number Daryl Powell admitted his team need to get back to winning ways as they aim to hold on to a top-four spot in First Utility Super League.

“It’s an important game for us,” said the Cas boss.

“Wakefield are showing some real signs that they are improving.

“I thought they showed some signs when they played us last time, they challenged us with the ball and put us under pressure.

“It took us a while to get on top. We have lost a couple straight and even though they have been close losses, they’ve been losses.

“It is important we remain positive. We need to get back in there and try and chalk a game off. We have to recognise it will be a tough game for us, but we just need to play well and deliver what we know we can deliver. We’re confident if we play well we’ll be a tough side to beat.”

Powell added: “We made nine errors in the second half last week and put ourselves under too much pressure.

“We defended really manfully, we were excellent with our toughness and resilience, but we can’t afford to make that many errors.”

Wildcats could give a debut to winger/full-back Richard Owen, who joined them from Tigers on Thursday. Centre Dean Collis is in contention after injury and is also added to the 17 who won at Widnes.

Recent signing Lee Jewitt is in line for his Tigers debut. Jamie Ellis and Michael Channing are hoping for a recall, but Ashley Gibson drops out from the team beaten by Leeds.

Tigers forward Frankie Mariano, who joined them fromn Wakefield in the off-season, has agreed a new two-year deal.

Castleford Tigers: from Tansey, Dixon, Channing, Shenton, Carney, Sneyd, Finn, Lynch, Milner, Mariano, Holmes, Webster, Wheeldon, Huby, Millington, Hauraki, Clark, Ellis, Jewitt.

Wakefield Trinity Wildcats: from Sammut, Mathers, Ryan, Walshaw, Riley, Sykes, Siejka, Anderson, McShane, Scruton, Washbrook, Kirmond, Smith, Godinet, Moore, Molloy, Fairbank, Collis, Owen.

Referee: James Child (Batley).

Kick-off: Tomorrow, 12.30pm, at Etihad Stadium, Manchester.

Tigers have been roaring all season and won 43-20 when the teams met at Wakefield on Good Friday, but are on a two-game losing run while Wildcats have won their last couple.

Agar, though, insisted Tigers are still playing well, despite defeats by Huddersfield Giants and Leeds Rhinos and he feels the pressure will be off his team at Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium.

“They aren’t in a slump,” Agar said of tomorrow’s opponents. “They are our rivals and it is a big derby game, but I have a lot of admiration for what they’ve achieved so far this season.

“The signs were there at the back end of last season. Their style of football is good and they are strong in the middle in particular.

“You can see the confidence in their team. They have put together a team and a style that suits them.”

But Agar said he has seen “gradual improvement” in his side in recent weeks and he’s convinced they are ready to give Tigers a game following morale-boosting wins over Hull and Widnes Vikings.

“We’ve been gradually stringing it together for longer periods,” he said. “We know we have still got to improve with the ball in the final third, but we know we will evolve and get better.”

Agar’s opposite number Daryl Powell admitted his team need to get back to winning ways as they aim to hold on to a top-four spot in First Utility Super League.

“It’s an important game for us,” said the Cas boss.

“Wakefield are showing some real signs that they are improving.

“I thought they showed some signs when they played us last time, they challenged us with the ball and put us under pressure.

“It took us a while to get on top. We have lost a couple straight and even though they have been close losses, they’ve been losses.

“It is important we remain positive. We need to get back in there and try and chalk a game off. We have to recognise it will be a tough game for us, but we just need to play well and deliver what we know we can deliver. We’re confident if we play well we’ll be a tough side to beat.”

Powell added: “We made nine errors in the second half last week and put ourselves under too much pressure.

“We defended really manfully, we were excellent with our toughness and resilience, but we can’t afford to make that many errors.”

Wildcats could give a debut to winger/full-back Richard Owen, who joined them from Tigers on Thursday. Centre Dean Collis is in contention after injury and is also added to the 17 who won at Widnes.

Recent signing Lee Jewitt is in line for his Tigers debut. Jamie Ellis and Michael Channing are hoping for a recall, but Ashley Gibson drops out from the team beaten by Leeds.

Tigers forward Frankie Mariano, who joined them fromn Wakefield in the off-season, has agreed a new two-year deal.

Castleford Tigers: from Tansey, Dixon, Channing, Shenton, Carney, Sneyd, Finn, Lynch, Milner, Mariano, Holmes, Webster, Wheeldon, Huby, Millington, Hauraki, Clark, Ellis, Jewitt.

Wakefield Trinity Wildcats: from Sammut, Mathers, Ryan, Walshaw, Riley, Sykes, Siejka, Anderson, McShane, Scruton, Washbrook, Kirmond, Smith, Godinet, Moore, Molloy, Fairbank, Collis, Owen.

Referee: James Child (Batley).

Kick-off: Tomorrow, 12.30pm, at Etihad Stadium, Manchester.

Kevin Brown during the England Vs Papua New Guinea 2017 Rugby League World Cup Quarter Final match at the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium (Picture: Brendon Ratnayake/SWpix.com/PhotosportNZ)

Brown backed to resume Cup campaign by Bennett