Castleford Tigers' boss makes 'right trajectory' claim but issues challenge ahead of London Broncos

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Castleford Tigers are aiming to tick a box against London Broncos at Ebbsfleet on Friday.

Having won at title-chasing St Helens last week, Tigers back up against Betfred Super League’s bottom club with belief boosted, but a warning about consistency ringing in their ears. Tigers have been improving since a heavy defeat at Leeds Rhinos last month and went close against Wigan Warriors and Hull KR before the victory at TW Stadium.

“That's the first time we've beaten a top-four side this season,” boss Craig Lingard said. “The previous two games gave us that belief and knowledge we were there or thereabouts and on our day we could compete with a top-four side. For us to actually get over the line and beat a team like St Helens at their own ground is massive for us and gives us really good belief.”

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But the coach insisted: “We've certainly not sat back this week. If anything, we've focused even more on being better this week than last week. We're in a different position because everybody will expect us to go to London and be the favourites.

Castleford Tigers head coach Craig Lingard celebrates after last week's win at St Helens. Picture by Ed Sykes/SWpix.com.Castleford Tigers head coach Craig Lingard celebrates after last week's win at St Helens. Picture by Ed Sykes/SWpix.com.
Castleford Tigers head coach Craig Lingard celebrates after last week's win at St Helens. Picture by Ed Sykes/SWpix.com.

“We've not won back-to-back games so far this season so it's a challenge for us to do that and maintain the professionalism and focus that we've shown in the last three games. There's been no sort of complacency from us this week.”

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Lingard insisted a second successive victory would “show the trajectory we're on is the right one and what we've tried to do with them all season is starting to pay dividends”. He stated: “For us as a coaching staff, it gives us that reinforcement the messages we're giving the players are the right ones.

"For me more than anything, it would show the players can handle the pressure because they've not been in this situation before. We knew coming into the season that there would be a lot of new things these players would have to cope with - and this is a new one for them.

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Castleford Tigers' Liam Horne celebrates with Joe Westerman after the win at St Helens. Picture by Ed Sykes/SWpix.com.Castleford Tigers' Liam Horne celebrates with Joe Westerman after the win at St Helens. Picture by Ed Sykes/SWpix.com.
Castleford Tigers' Liam Horne celebrates with Joe Westerman after the win at St Helens. Picture by Ed Sykes/SWpix.com.

"We've got to handle the expectations of going down there as favourites. There were no expectations on us at St Helens because nobody expected us to go there and get the win. All the pressure is on this week so it's about how we react to that.”

A top-six place looks beyond them, but Lingard reckons Tigers can climb some places on the ladder. "Hopefully Friday is a positive outcome for us and we can start reeling in some of those teams above us,” he added.

“We finished second bottom last year and knew that anything better than last year was going to be a success for us with the development squad we've got. We're third bottom at this moment in time and if we can get higher than that, that would be outstanding for us. The higher we finish, it helps our IMG score so we've got an eye on that as well.”

London Broncos: from Walker, Kershaw, Bassett, Macani, Campagnolo, Meadows, Butler, Davis, Bienek, Lovell, Natoli, Parata, Stock, Adebiyi, Waine, Kennedy, Leyland, Storey, Rourke, Jones, Tison.

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Castleford Tigers: from Hooley I Senior, Miller, Watts, Lawler, El-Zakhem, Mellor, Westerman, Horne, Griffin, Milnes, S Hall, Mustapha, Qareqare, Robb, Kibula, Hill, Johnson, Hoy, C Hall, English.

Referee: James Vella. Kick-off: Friday, 8pm, at Ebbsfleet.

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