A BIG IMPROVEMENT will be needed for Castleford Tigers to reach their first Super League Grand Final, according to captain Michael Shenton.
The skipper’s four tries helped Tigers to a 36-30 win over Hull in their opening game of the First Utility Super-8s, but Shenton reckons they have to be better in their next six matches.
Fifth-placed Tigers are at home again in two days’ time when they take on Warrington Wolves, who are four points adrift in sixth.
With the top-four qualifying for the play-offs at the end of the Super-8s, Tigers have an opportunity to all-but eliminate one of the big guns.
Warrington are coming off the back of a 49-10 drubbing at Leeds Rhinos, but won 44-6 at the Jungle in Super League just three weeks ago.
Shenton admitted: “They will definitely be wanting to make up for last week, but we owe Warrington one ourselves.
“We owed Hull one they’ve both embarrassed us this year – and did that so it’d be a great time to make amends for our loss last time around, too. It was pretty pleasing to get the win against Hull, but there were mistakes in there and we have to focus on improving against Warrington as we can’t afford to continue doing that in these Super-8s games.”
He added: “There were just little things that frustrated us. When we got a grip on the game, for example and then came up with errors at their end, or gave cheap penalties to let them out and back into the contest. There was a point when if we just knocked our sets off and went for a drop goal, with a seven-point cushion, it would have killed Hull’s spirit. Instead we get a decent lead and then let them get back into, which is pretty disappointing. We have to learn from it. We don’t want to be at our best just yet, but as long as we learn from Friday that’s the main thing. The two points were massive and with other results going our way we had to take advantage, which we did.”
Shenton’s four tries included the 150th of his career, but he handed all the praise to his teammates. Tigers trailed 12-0 after just five minutes and Shenton said: “To show the character we did to get back into it was great. The boys really dug in, our halves put the ball where it needed to be and then Justin Carney’s chase and just his energy throughout, for me, got us the win. He was really good, he made some really big calls for us. Obviously it’s a team game and our forwards really got to grips in that second half and smashed theirs, to be honest. Defensively they were putting people like Mickey Paea on their backsides which is where we want to be and where you should start the game really. We have to start like that against Warrington.”