THREE GAMES into his top-flight career, scrum-half Cory Aston is making a positive impression on his Castleford Tigers coach Daryl Powell.
Aston was Sky television’s man of the match when Tigers lost 6-4 at Wigan Warriors two days ago.
That was his third Betfred Super League appearance, after having gone through a season with Leeds Rhinos and one at Castleford without breaking into the senior side.
The former Sheffield Eagles half-back eventually got his chance after Luke Gale was ruled out for the entire campaign in pre-season, Jamie Ellis suffered a long-term injury and Jordan Rankin also joined the casualty list.
Aston’s inclusion in the pivots alongside Jake Truman has allowed hooker Paul McShane and full-back Peter Mata’utia – who have filled in at half-back – to play in their specialist roles.
“It has taken a long time for him get an opportunity and I think he has stepped up and done well,” Powell said of Aston, who had a spell on loan in League One with Newcastle Thunder before being recalled.
I have been pleased with him. He has handled it defensively, that was the big challenge for him.Daryl Powell
“I have been pleased with him.” Aston scored a try in each of his first two senior appearances, against Wakefield Trinity and Catalans Dragons, but Powell has been more impressed with what he has done when Tigers aren’t in possession.
“He has handled it defensively, that was the big challenge for him,” said the coach.
“He has put his shoulder in the right areas and been really tough.
“I think there’s a bit more to come from him so it will be interesting to see how he develops over the next period.”
The loss at Wigan was Tigers’ sixth defeat in their last nine fixtures, but Powell feels his injury-hit side are playing better than that record suggests.
They led 4-0 at half-time, through two penalty goals, but a converted try won the game for Wigan Warriors despite them being on the defensive for long spells.
“I thought we were very good, to be honest,” Powell said.
“We were in control of the game for the vast majority of it.
“I thought we defended well and put them under some pressure with the ball.”
Of Tigers’ failure to score a try, Powell said: “We could not quite execute to get over the line, but we created a few opportunities.
“We lacked a bit of a cutting edge, but that is understandable with the amount of changes we’ve had in the team.
“I thought we were the better team and we did enough to win it, but we just fell a bit short.”
Tigers came through with no major new injuries, but will again be down to the bare bones for Friday’s visit of Warrington Wolves.
Powell said: “I don’t think anybody will be back this week, but potentially some could be for the Cup game [at Hull] the week after.”