SKIPPER MICHAEL Shenton reckons the 40-14 Challenge Cup drubbing at Hull two months ago was a turning point in Castleford Tigers’ season – and he sees Sunday’s Super League return as chance to set the record straight.
The Cup loss was the middle game in a run of three successive defeats for Tigers, but since then they have won five-straight to keep alive hopes of a top-four finish at the end of the regular campaign.
Round 21 began with Tigers only two points off second place, but with just three games remaining, the fixture at KC Stadium is a must-win.
Hull are also desperate for the points in their top-eight quest and Shenton said: “It is always a tough place to go and we haven’t done very well there in the past. We had a scrappy draw there last year and they knocked us out of the Cup. They gave us a good hiding that day, so we know how dangerous they are. They have got some big threats, but we have got to go there and keep the form we’ve got going at the minute and keep performing.”
Shenton admitted the Cup defeat will be “at the back of our minds”. He said: “The way we started that game was terrible and Hull were really sharp and scored a lot of points. But since that game we’ve swung things around. We have completed and we’ve started games really well.
“We have always been the first team to score and we’ve been really dominant in games, so that was a big turning point in our season.”
Shenton felt last Sunday’s 34-20 home victory over Widnes Vikings was another step in the right direction.
It was Cas’ first game in more than two weeks and the heavens opened in the second half, after an opening period played in warm sunshine.
“I think we were a bit rusty, after that time off, but I thought we showed some great signs,” Shenton said.
“Some of our defence was outstanding and our composure was really good. The weather caught us out a bit, because it changed so much and I don’t think either team handled it very well. I think we probably handled it a bit better than Widnes did and that showed in the end. We were really dominant.”
Winger Denny Solomona’s hat-trick took his try tally for the season to 13, with 11 of those coming in the last five games.
He will be looking to continue that run on Sunday and Shenton said: “He has played both sides of the field, he has played outside me and he’s on the other side now, outside Jake (Webster). He is an amazing finisher. He is an unbelievable athlete, the things he can do in the gym and on the field. He is such a laid-back character, but he has got that much potential.
“He is one of the best players to watch in the league, entertainment-wise and his personality shows on the field. I think it suits him playing with us as well. He is still only 21, so he is a great young talent and it was smart of Daryl (Powell, Tigers’ coach) to see the potential in him at London. He wasn’t playing in a great team there, but he has shown what talent he has got and he has come a long way since the start of the season.”