CASTLEFORD TIGERS have been rated as “outstanding” by coach Daryl Powell for their efforts over the opening half of the First Utility Super League season.
Round 14 – which marks the mid-way point of the regular campaign – began with Tigers in third spot in the table, having lost just four times.
They are also through to the quarter-finals of the Tetley’s Challenge Cup and Powell is full of praise for the way his team have performed.
“I think we’ve been outstanding to date, especially with our commitment and effort,” said Powell, whose side are at home to top-eight rivals Widnes Vikings tomorrow. “It has been all about fractions in the games we have lost – the most we’ve lost by was eight points and that was against Leeds. It has been a superb effort. The key now is maintaining it and I don’t see any reason why we can’t.”
Tigers bounced back from successive defeats – to Huddersfield Giants and Leeds Rhinos – by thrashing Wakefield Trinity Wildcats 50-12 five days ago and Powell added: “I think the biggest statement that we’re not going to drop off was the response last week. We’d lost two tough games before that and to respond in that manner shows we’ve got something about us.
“In the first half of the season we’ve scored more points than anyone else – which I think is ridiculous when you consider everyone is talking about Leeds and their backline – and we’ve missed the least amount of tackles in the competition. Those two stats are incredible and it’s a massive credit to the players and how they’ve delivered this season.”
Widnes are another surprise package, having won eight of their 12 games so far and Powell said: “I think Widnes have really gone under the radar. “They’ve grown year-on-year since they came back into Super League, whereas we’ve improved in one big chunk. They are two points behind us and they’re a very good side. You can see the culture they’ve got there and how it has helped them to go well.”
Star man for Widnes has been stand-off Kevin Brown, who faces an intriguing battle with Tigers’ Marc Sneyd tomorrow. Powell said: “He’s a superb player. They’ve got a lot of key players, but he and Hanbury are the two main ones.
“They are the organisation behind the real tough, hard workers they have in the team. Kevin Brown has been outstanding for them this season; he scores tries and creates opportunities so he’s a real threat. His range of passing makes him very dangerous and we need to be mindful of his ability.”
Powell will select for tomorrow from the 17 who beat Wakefield last week, plus fit-again half-back/full-back Luke Dorn and hooker Adam Milner, who was rested for the Wakefield game.
By contrast, Widnes are without Chris Dean, Danny Craven, Jon Clarke and Phil Joseph, who were all injured in last Saturday’s win over Salford Red Devils. Cameron Phelps, Ed Chamberlain, Matt Whitley, Paul Clough, Tom Gilmore and Grant Gore are the possible replacements.
Castleford Tigers from: Tansey, Dixon, Webster, Shenton, Carney, Sneyd, Finn, Lynch, Clark, Huby, Holmes, Hauraki, Millington, Mariano, Wheeldon, Ellis, Jewitt, Dorn, Milner.
Widnes Vikings from: Hanbury, Flynn, Phelps, Marsh, Owen, Brown, Gilmore, Kavanagh, Gore, Clough, Allen, Tickle, Gerrard, White, Leuluai, Isa, Johnson, Chamberlain, Whitley.
Referee: Ben Thaler (Wakefield).
Kick-off: Tomorrow, 3.30pm.