Castleford Tigers v Salford Red Devils: We must improve to grab Super League play-offs spot says Niall Evalds
Calculators are on stand-by, but full-back Niall Evalds reckons the equation is simple for Castleford Tigers - win every game.
Monday’s 22-0 home defeat by Wigan Warriors cost Tigers the chance of climbing to fourth in Betfred Super League.
But with fifth-placed Leeds Rhinos and Hull and Hull KR - who are seventh and eighth - also losing, Castleford held on to the sixth and final play-offs spot.
After today’s Magic Weekend meeting with Salford Red Devils in Newcastle, Cas visit Hull KR next Friday and finish their regular season against third-placed visitors Warrington Wolves the following weekend.
The race for the final two play-offs places is on a knife edge and Evalds admitted today is “huge” for Tigers.
“Especially with our result on Monday, it has made it even bigger for us,” said the former Salford star.
“We have got the aim of just taking care of ourselves and just winning every game.
“There’s three left now and a win this week keeps us on track and in that race.
“It is really tight and there’s teams competing with us, but we have to take care of ourselves.”
That means coming up with a huge improvement on the performance five days ago, Evalds admitted.
Reflecting on that defeat, he accepted: “We were way off. The performance just wasn’t good enough. We’ve watched bits of it and that’s not a Cas performance.
“We’d been on a good run of form so it was disappointing to toss that one up, but there’s no better place than the Magic Weekend to turn things around. We’re looking for a good performance.”
Tigers won a league clash away to Salford at the end of April and beat them - in golden-point extra-time - in a Challenge Cup quarter-final the following week.
Castleford fielded an understrength team in a 70-18 home loss two months ago and Evalds insisted: “We are always confident, whoever we play.
“We know when we are on our game, take care of all the little one percenters and all the hard-working details, we can beat anyone on our day.
“We need to really rip in.”
The Red Devils are second from bottom in the table, but their big home win over Hull on Monday did Tigers a favour and Evalds expects today’s game to be tough.
“They are a quality side and have some really good players,” he noted.
“That performance they have just put in against Hull shows what they can do when they are on and we won’t be under-estimating anyone. We’re ready for the best Salford.”
Paul McShane could return today after missing the Wigan defeat through injury and Jacques O’Neill, James Clare and Lewis Bienek have all been drafted into the squad.
Danny Richardson (concussion), Liam Watts (suspended) and Greg Eden (hamstring tear) all drop out, however.
Castleford Tigers: from Evalds, Olpherts, Mata’utia, Shenton, McShane, Millington, Holmes, Blair, Milner, Massey, Griffin, Foster, O’Neill, Hepi, Clare, Sene-Lefao, Smith, Matagi, Turner, Bienek, O’Brien.
Salford Red Devils: from Escare, Sio, Inu, Burgess, Lolohea, Brown, Ackers, Lannon, Addy, Roberts, Burke, Johnson, Atkin, Livett, Williams, Sarginson, Costello, Luckley, Hingano, Roebuck, Robson.
Referee: Chris Kendall (Huddersfield).
Kick-off: Today, 3pm.
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