THE NEXT few weeks are all about fine-tuning for knockout rugby, according to Castleford Tigers forward Nathan Massey.
He reckons Tigers are making “really big strides” in defence and will be working on attacking combinations during their last three fixtures in the Betfred Super-8s, beginning at home to Huddersfield Giants tonight.
Massey admitted Tigers have been “lacking a bit of flair with the ball,” but insisted: “Galey [Luke Gale] has only been back two weeks and he’s just getting his combinations right.
“We are looking good and building towards that semi-final.”
Tigers’ 28-8 win at Hull six days ago secured their place in the top four and Massey is happy for St Helens and Wigan Warriors to go into the semi-finals as favourites to meet at Old Trafford a month tonight.
“We just worry about ourselves,” he said. “We just want to build on our game.
We want to finish the season strong and finish with another three wins under our belt going into the semi-final.Nathan Massey
“Defensively we’ve been good the last few weeks and our attack will come.
“We will just keep working on that and working hard in training.
“We played some good stuff in the first half at Hull, we lost it a bit in the second, but we’ve got Jesse [Sene-Lefao] to come back in and we’ve got a really healthy squad at the minute. That’s good for us and having that healthy squad is pushing us a lot more.
“It’s something we’ve not had all year and it’s giving Powelly [coach Daryl Powell] some tough decisions picking the team.”
Tigers are third in the table, three points behind second-placed Wigan and two ahead of the other semi-finalists Warrington Wolves.
“We are still trying to get that second spot,” Massey stressed.
“Wigan are playing well, but we want to finish the season strong and finish with another three wins under our belt going into the semi-final. We want to build some momentum. We just need to keep working hard in training, keep our heads down and keep playing well. If you look across the squad, we’ve been pretty depleted throughout the year. Now we’re getting key players back at a crucial time so it is good for us.”
He added: “Getting into the top four is a massive achievement and I think you can see we’ve really started to build something going into that semi’.
“Hopefully we can carry that on and carry it all the way into the Grand Final this year.”
Sene-Lefao and Greg Minikin are set to return from injury tonight and Jake Webster is also in contention, but Oliver Holmes drops out after damaging a hamstring last week.
Matty English and Colton Roche are available for Giants after injury and youngster Sam Hewitt could get a call-up. Alex Mellor drops out.
Castleford Tigers: from Clare, Clark, Eden, Gale, Massey, Mata’utia, McMeeken, McShane, Millington, Milner, Minikin, Moors, Roberts, Sene-Lefao, Shenton, Trueman, Joe Wardle, Watts, Webster.
Huddersfield Giants: from Mamo, Turner, Gaskell, Brough, Leeming, Lawrence, Hinchcliffe, Rankin, Roberts, Ta’ai, Clough, Smith, O’Brien, Roche, English, Jake Wardle, Hewitt, Senior, Matagi.
Referee: Ben Thaler (Wakefield).
Kick-off: Tonight, 7.45pm.