Castleford Tigers have learned lessons after Hull clawed back deficit warns McMeeken

Castleford forward Mike McMeeken. PIC: Bruce Rollinson
Castleford forward Mike McMeeken. PIC: Bruce Rollinson
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ENGLAND SECOND-ROWER Mike McMeeken reckons Castleford Tigers have had a warning ahead of Thursday’s derby at Wakefield Trinity.

Tigers led 22-4 early in the second half against Hull and were 24-10 ahead with nine minutes remaining, but a late fightback by the visitors left them hanging on at the end.

McMeeken admitted it was a “tense” finale and he said Cas have learned a lesson as they approach the business end of the season and the games that really matter.

“We made it pretty hard for ourselves in the end,” he conceded.

“Credit to Hull, they came back at us, but luckily enough we held on.

“We don’t want to be getting into tight games like that.

At half-time we thought if we had a tidy second half we’d win it quite comfortably, but it got scrappy. They are a class team and they are where they are in the table for a reason, but it was more us giving away silly errors and silly penalties.

“That killed us. You can’t do that against a team like Hull, so it was a learning curve for us in that second half and we have a lot to work on for this week.”

Hull scored four tries to Tigers’ three and came close to repeating their two earlier wins against Tigers at KCOM Stadium, including a Ladbrokes Challenge Cup quarter-final victory just 10 days earlier.

McMeeken, who scored Tigers’ second try in last Friday’s win, reckons the teams are likely to meet again in a knockout game and said Cas will take confidence from finally getting one over their rivals, even if it was a close-run thing.

“They are a quality side,” he said.

“We showed we can beat them so there’s nothing there mentally.

“We have just got to make sure when we play them we turn up.”

After ripping through most of the opposition they have faced this year – their average score in Super League is 33-16 – McMeeken feels Castleford will benefit from a tighter encounter.

Their last three matches – against Hull twice and another top-four side Leeds Rhinos – have all been relatively close and the former London Broncos man said they are building useful experience for the crucial games to come over the final third of the season.

“We’d prefer to have a big win, but these are the type of games you are going to get in semi-finals and finals,” he said.

“It is good for us as a learning curve.

“We know we are going to have these tight games so we’ve got to get used to them.”

Castleford, who are now eight points clear at the top of Betfred Super League, defended strongly for almost an hour before conceding three late tries, all out wide.

McMeeken reflected: “In the first half especially, we were outstanding.

“We had three or four sets on our tryline and we will take a lot from that, but we let in a couple of soft tries in the second half.

“That was a bit disappointing, but we got the win which was the most important thing.”

It is a short turnaround to this week’s game – the latest in a series of key matches for Cas – but McMeeken said they are in good shape.

“The physio and conditioning staff are looking out for us,” he said.

“They have been smart with us so it’s all good.

“Training sessions have been short and sharp, but intense.

“We have to make sure we get the most out of them then rock up on game day ready to go.”

Castleford Tigers' Grant Millington in no-nonsense action against neighbours Wakefield Trinity. PIC: Simon Cooper/PA Wire

Importance of momentum not lost on Castleford Tigers forward Millington