IT IS win or bust for Castleford Tigers tonight.
Defeat at home to St Helens would effectively end Tigers’ hopes of a place in the First Utility Super-8s semi-finals, but coach Daryl Powell reckons his team are capable of picking up the maximum six points from their remaining matches.
“We need to win all three games, it’s as simple as that,” said Powell, whose side travel to Leeds Rhinos and Wigan Warriors in their final two fixtures.
“We are four points behind (the teams in fourth and third) and the points difference is not in our favour either.
“We’ve got the St Helens game first and we’ll see how we come out the other side.”
Saints are on a high after last week’s victory at Headingley and Powell admitted: “It will be a tough game as it always is against Saints, but we’ve beaten all the sides we’re playing against.
“We beat Leeds away this year and we’ve beaten Wigan away a couple of times in the last couple of years. We beat St Helens the last time we played them down here, so we can do it. The challenge is to do it now under pressure.”
The coach insisted: “I believe we can do that and if you want to be in the top four at the end of the season you’ve got to be able to win games like these.
“We are getting more experience of playing in these kind of games now and we’ve got to come out the other side in more of them and hopefully this can be the start of that.
“The challenge is a tough one, there’s no question, but we have to start reeling one of the teams in that are above us, so this [tonight] is a defining moment in our season.” Tigers are on the back of successive defeats at Catalans Dragons and Huddersfield Giants, but Powell was encouraged by the way his team performed in last Thursday’s 40-26 setback at John Smith’s Stadium.
“I thought the boys played well for most of the game,” said Powell, who is without Nathan Massey tonight due to a wrist injury, but hopes to welcome back Michael Shenton from a dislocated shoulder and Oliver Holmes after illness.
“We did well for 40-45 minutes, but we’ve got to do well for 70-75 minutes. Teams are going to have the advantage at some point and we’ve got to be more durable under pressure.”
Tigers snatched a dramatic one-point victory with the last kick on the game in their previous home meeting with Saints and Powell said that will give them confidence ahead of tonight.
“When you you know you can beat a side it helps,” he stated. “We’ve put them under pressure a fair bit over the last two years, especially down here, but until the last game we couldn’t quite get over the line.
“It does give you confidence when you know you can beat the better sides in the comp.”
St Helens from: Makinson, Turner, Jones, Swift, Burns, Walsh, Masoe, Roby, Amor, Wilkin, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Walmsley, Flanagan, Percival, Thompson, Richards, Greenwood, Savelio, Quinlan.
Castleford Tigers from: Dorn, Shenton, Roberts, Gale, Lynch, Milner, Millington, O Holmes, Boyle, Moors, Wheeldon, Solomona, Finn, Channing, McMeeken, Gibson, Maher, Springer, McShane.
Referee: Ben Thaler (Wakefield).
Kick-off: Tonight, 8pm.