AUSSIE PACK ace Grant Millington feels Castleford Tigers can learn a lesson from their 60-16 demolition of Sheffield Eagles in the Tetley’s Challenge Cup.
Tigers ran in eight tries against the Kingstone Press Championship visitors in the first half, but struggled to maintain their momentum after the break.
And Millington admitted that is an area they need to work on as they prepare for some massive fixtures in First Utility Super League.
“We put a pretty good score on (on Sunday), but we lost our way a bit in the last 15 minutes,” the loose-forward admitted.
“The ruck started to get a bit quick for us and they showed they’ve got a bit of quality about them.
“They did well in the end and I think they will do well for the rest of the season.
“For us, we’ve just got to keep practicing and working on putting sides away and playing for the full 80.
“Come playing the big sides in the comp, that’s when it’s going to be most important.”
Two of those big sides are up next, with Cas due to travel to Huddersfield Giants on Sunday before a home derby with Leeds Rhinos four days later.
“It is going to be a massive period for us, as it was over the whole Easter break,” Millington said.
“I don’t think there’s any reason we can’t continue winning games.
“We’ve just got to stick to what we do best, that’s grind teams away and put points on the board at the back end of halves.”
Despite Tigers being second in Super League and through to the quarter-finals of the Tetley’s Challenge Cup, Millington insisted he isn’t surprised at how well they have gone so far this year.
He said: “I didn’t think we’d be coming second, but I knew we’d be in the top half of the top-eight – around four or so.
“A lot of people are quite surprised at how we’ve gone, but they weren’t here when we were running hills and they weren’t there when we were down doing Army camps.
“They don’t see all the hard work that’s put in and that’s fine, but I think they will start to take us a bit more seriously now.
“They already have, but if we can get another two wins over two top teams over the next few weeks that will make people’s mind up about us.”
Having already overcome last year’s Grand Finalists Wigan Warriors and Warrington Wolves, Tigers are starting to go into games being expected to beat leading sides, particularly at home.
That brings its own pressure, but Millington said: “You can tell by watching the side and being at training every day that there’s a fair bit of confidence about us.
“But we are not getting ahead of ourselves. We know there’s still a fair bit to work on and that showed on Sunday in the last 15 minutes.
“What we’ve got to work on now is putting sides away. Even though we put 60 points on the board we have got to be better at the back end of the game.”
A full 80-minute effort is likely to be needed at John Smith’s Stadium this weekend.
Last year’s league leaders have struggled to find their feet this term and are already out of the Challenge Cup.
But Millington warned: “They will be fresh.
“Huddersfield haven’t had the best of starts, but you can never count them out and they’ve got quality players all over the field, so we are going to have to be good. They are at home, so it will be a big test for us.”
Giants have a huge pack, but Tigers’ forwards have been outstanding this year. Weller Hauraki and Andy Lynch both sat out the Sheffield game, but will return this weekend.
And Millington feels Castleford’s big men can mix it with anyone.
“Our pack has been really good,” he observed.
“It’s not just the ones who are starting, it’s the guys who are coming off the bench as well.
“We are not really losing anything when they are coming off the bench, whereas in the last few years we might have struggled and lost a bit of momentum. Everyone’s been really good and working together as a team and that’s why we are second in the league.”
Millington, now in his third season at Cas, has been a big part of that.
He recently signed a new deal keeping him at the club until the end of next year.
And he said: “I think I am close to playing the best footy I’ve played in the top grade.
“In lower grades I have had some good years, but in the top grade I think this is the best I’ve played. I hope I can carry on for the rest of the season and the next few years. I have got the rest of this year and another season after that and it’s really exciting. Next year we will have a year of building together and we will shake things up again. When I first got here I was a bit ‘what have I got myself into’?
“There were a few things going on, but it is a different world here now.
“It is a very enjoyable place to be around. The people here are really good, not only wanting to help you, but wanting to help your family and make them as comfortable as possible. It is hard being away from your family in Australia, but things here now are a mile better than they were in the last couple of years.”