THE NEXT two games could make or break Castleford Tigers’ season, beginning with tonight’s trip to Huddersfield Giants.
Tigers are fifth in the First Utility Super-8s, two points behind Giants and St Helens, who they take on at the Jungle in seven days’ time.
With four games left, Tigers are still well in the hunt for a top-four finish and a place in the semi-finals, which would leave them just one win away from Old Trafford and the Grand Final.
But boss Daryl Powell admitted they can’t afford to slip-up again tonight following the defeat at Catalans Dragons last time out.
“They are two key games for us,” Powell conceded.
“Huddersfield is a significant game, it would put them four points in front if they win.
“Huddersfield will be huge, huge favourites. We are going to have to play as well as we can from one to 17 to give ourselves a chance, but the boys have trained really well and the spirit’s great.
“The boys have worked exceptionally hard over the last week and we’re looking forward to it. It is a great challenge for us.”
Tigers were crushed 22-0 at Huddersfield in Super League round five and controversially beaten 24-16 by Giants at home in May.
“We just need to show how much this game means to us, regardless of what’s happened in the past,” Powell added.
“It is a great opportunity for us to front up and come up with an outstanding performance.
“We know they are a good side, they have been playing pretty solid all year and defensively they’ve been excellent.
“They have been pretty much the best defensive side in the competition and they are in a bit of a groove.
“Brett Ferres is missing, but pretty much everyone else is available and it will certainly be a tough game for us.”
Tigers will be without winger Justin Carney, who has been suspended by the club over off-the field behaviour.
Powell declined to comment on that situation, but he said: “It’s chance to focus on the game in front of us and play well.
“We will give ourselves a chance by performing at the top of our game.
“It’s chance for 17 blokes to get out there and play as well as they can.”
Captain Michael Shenton is sidelined by the dislocated shoulder he suffered against Catalans, but has a chance of being fit to face Saints.
Castleford winger Denny Solomona has recovered from an ankle injury and is back in contention along with Luke Dorn, Scott Wheeldon and Ryan Boyle.
Giants’ side will be selected from the 17 players who won at St Helens last time out, plus Jodie Broughton and Oliver Roberts.
Huddersfield Giants: from Grix, McGillvary, Cudjoe, Connor, Murphy, Brough, Ellis, Crabtree, Robinson, Huby, Wardle, Hughes, Ta’ai, Lawrence, Kopczak, Leeming, Smith, Broughton, O Roberts.
Castleford Tigers from: Boyle, Channing, Cook, Dorn, Finn, Gale, Gibson, O Holmes, Lynch, Massey, McMeeken, McShane, Millington, Milner, Moors, B Roberts, Solomona, Springer, Wheeldon.
Referee: Robert Hicks (Oldham).
Kick-off: Tonight, 8pm.