COACH DARYL Powell has refused to rule his Castleford Tigers side out of semi-finals contention after they secured a place in the First Utility Super-8s.
With two games remaining in the regular season – plus an extra seven matches of the new competition – Tigers are seven points adrift of fourth spot.
“You never say never,” Powell commented after Tigers’ 38-24 win over fourth-placed Catalans Dragons.
“It’s a tough ask, there’s no question, but the thing about the top-eights is you’re always playing each other and that’s a lot of tough games.
“The most important thing is we’re in there and then we’ll see where this journey takes us.”
Powell admitted the pressure is off his injury-hit team after their first home Super League win since April 3 ended fears of them being dragged into the bottom third of the table.
He said: “There’s a lot of improvement in us on what we’ve done today, but the frustration and anxiety dies a little bit as we know where we’re going to be and that’s important to us.
“It clearly was an important win.
“When you look at the way things have been going, [ninth-placed] Hull KR could easily win their next two games so in terms of the whole season so far it was a crucial game.
“We needed to win. We had a great week in practice and trained really hard.
“It was a little bit scratchy at times and we were a little bit frustrated, but overall we have to be happy we got the two points as it releases a bit of pressure on us now and gives us an opportunity to kick on for the rest of the season.”
Powell decided not to include former Man of Steel Rangi Chase, who rejoined Tigers last week after a brief spell away from the sport.
Said the coach: “When I saw him on Monday he looked like he needed a little bit of time, on Tuesday he was a bit better, Thursday he was better and Saturday morning better again.
“But I still think he needed a couple of weeks.
“We’ll see how we roll through with him next week, but he’s looking a whole heap better and it’ll be interesting to see how he looks after that second week with us.”