CASTLEFORD TIGERS are set to finish the regular First Utility Super League season in fifth spot, but coach Daryl Powell insists tomorrow’s visit of Warrington Wolves is far from a dead rubber.
Tigers trail fourth-placed Huddersfield on points difference and Powell accepts it is unlikely Giants will slip up at home to bottom club Wakefield Trinity Wildcats in their final game tomorrow.
But Warrington are sixth, four points behind and the Cas coach sees this weekend as a great opportunity to open a big gap on one of their main rivals going into the Super-8s.
Points from the weekly rounds will carry over into the new competition, a seven-game mini-league to decide the four semi-finalists who will play off for a place at Old Trafford.
“The points count,” Powell stressed. “It (tomorrow’s game) is pretty important, regardless of whether we can get fourth or not.
“With the points carrying over we want to be as close as possible to fourth, to give us a chance of fighting for fourth over the last seven games.
“If we win we’ll be six points ahead of Warrington and that will make it tough for them. They have got the Challenge Cup next week as well, so it might be a bit of a split focus for them. They will want to play well, but we beat them early in the year and it would be good for us to do the double over them.”
Tigers will have a break next weekend, for the Cup semi-finals, before beginning their Super-8s campaign and Powell reckons they will be going in to the business end of the year in good shape.
“We are finishing above some pretty big teams and we are turning ourselves into a consistent team who are challenging for the top-four,” he said.
“If we do that and reach the semi-finals, then it’s win one game and you’re at Old Trafford. We are going to be playing against good teams, so it is going to be tough, but I am looking forward to seeing how it pans out.”
Powell added: “We would prefer to have four home games, rather than three, which would have happened if we’d been in the top-four. But we were pretty close at Catalans and we’ve won at Warrington and Leeds.
“Our away form is pretty good and I don’t think there’s a lot for us to worry about, it is just whether we can be consistent over the last seven games. I think we can.
“There’s a freshness and desire about us and it is a really good challenge for us.”
Tigers will be without ankle injury victim Denny Solomona but Jake Webster, Michael Channing and Scott Wheeldon are all hoping for a recall.
Warrington’s team will be selected from the 17 beaten by St Helens last week, plus Joel Monaghan and Sam Wilde.
Castleford Tigers from: Dorn, Gibson, Webster, Shenton, Carney, Finn, Gale, Lynch, Milner, Millington, O Holmes, McMeeken, Springer, Roberts, Cook, Boyle, Moors, Channing, Wheeldon.
Warrington Wolves from: Russell, Ormsby, Ratchford, Atkins, Penny, O’Brien, Myler, Hill, Clark, Sims, Westwood, Currie, Harrison, Asotasi, England, Dwyer, Philbin, Monaghan, Wilde.
Referee: Phil Bentham (Warrington).
Kick-off: Tomorrow, 3.30pm.