CASTLEFORD TIGERS are in relaxed mood ahead of tonight’s derby at Wakefield Trinity, captain Michael Shenton says.
A win would move Tigers 10 points clear at the top of Betfred Super League, they are already guaranteed to finish the regular season as league leaders and could have a semi-final spot in the bag before the Super-8s begin.
Last Friday’s 24-22 win over Hull, who had beaten them twice earlier in the season, was a big one for Tigers and Shenton reckons some of the pressure is now off, though he insisted their approach will not change.
“Our last block of fixtures have been really intense – Saints, Warrington, Hull twice, Leeds and now Wakefield,” the England centre said.
“We have had a really tough run and, except for Hull in the Cup, we’ve been great in all of those.
“I think we will relax a bit after last week. There was a lot of build up to that one. It was playing on our minds a bit and it was good to get the win.
“We need to move on now and I think we can refocus a little bit and look at the last three games in the regular season.
“There’s a bit of a break after that and then we can focus on the Super-8s, but we are still doing what we do, focusing on blocks of games and getting the job done.
“Last week was a really important game and a pleasing win for us.
“The extra bonus is it moves us a bit further ahead at the top and I think we deserve to be there as well.”
Tigers led 22-4 early in the second half against Hull and 24-10 inside the final 10 minutes, but were hanging on when the final hooter sounded.
After a season of mainly big wins it was a new experience and Shenton reckons Tigers will be better for it.
He said: “We are going to get games like that later in the year.
“That’s the first time we’ve had that, when somebody is actually chasing us down.
“They kept coming and coming and getting little bits going their way. They kept coming up with good plays and scoring points back-to-back.
“This year we’ve been really good at when we’ve been losing momentum in games putting a halt to it quickly and getting back in the arm wrestle.
“Last week we were a bit slow to react. We got the two points [to make it 24-10] and they got the ball straight back.
“That was a big learning curve for us – it was a really poor error from us, not being urgent enough to get back.
“They were chasing the game and they were going to come fast, but we really switched off. We got away with some things where we just knocked off a bit.
“In big games against smart teams you can’t afford to do that, so we have got to be better.”
Tonight’s hosts Wakefield are fifth, but only two points behind second-placed Salford Red Devils.
“I have watched them a few times this year and the way they play with the ball is a bit similar to ourselves,” Shenton said.
“They are missing David Fifita, who seems to have a bit of punch for them. We are missing Junior Moors so it evens it up a bit.
“We know they are going to play, but we have got to keep this run going and keep playing well.
“This is a big one and it means a lot to our fans as well. Derbies are always special.”