Castleford Tigers v Catalans Dragons: Boss Powell retains respect for Challenge Cup winners

Castleford Tigers coach Daryl Powell. PIC: Matthew Merrick
Castleford Tigers coach Daryl Powell. PIC: Matthew Merrick
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MOMENTUM IS the buzzword from coach Daryl Powell as Castleford Tigers step up their bid for Grand Final glory.

Tigers slipped to fourth in Betfred Super League following Warrington Wolves’ huge win over Hull two days ago, but Powell’s focus is on keeping up the pressure on second-placed Wigan and ensuring they go into the semi-finals in good form.

Fit-again Cas playmaker, Luke Gale. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Fit-again Cas playmaker, Luke Gale. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

After having last weekend off, Tigers will play host to Catalans Dragons this evening in the French side’s first game since their Ladbrokes Challenge Cup triumph at Wembley a week ago.

It has been party time for Catalans and coach Steve McNamara admitted after the final he was not sure how he would get his side back up for five effectively meaningless fixtures in the Betfred Super-8s. But Castleford have everything to play for as they chase a trophy of their own and Powell insisted they can’t spend time wondering what the visitors will do.

“We are just after some momentum,” stressed the Castleford boss. “We want to be playing well building up towards the end of the season. We still want to get second. It will be tough, but we want to get some momentum whoever we are playing, so we are feeling good about ourselves.”

Of Catalans’ approach, Powell stressed: “We have to focus on being at our best and also try and focus on them being at their best. We don’t know what they are going to come up with, but they have been a really good team over the back half of the season. They are a dangerous team and you don’t want to go into any game thinking you are going to get a poor effort from the opposition.

Ben Roberts, hopes to return from injury against Catalans Dragons. PIC: Bruce Rollinson

Ben Roberts, hopes to return from injury against Catalans Dragons. PIC: Bruce Rollinson

“They have got a really aggressive way of playing and we have got to be ready for that.

“We are looking forward to a tough game and we want to be right on top of our standards.”

Tigers will be boosted by the return from injury of Man of Steel Luke Gale and fellow half-back Ben Roberts who have both been sidelined since April.

Adam Milner is available after concussion and Will Maher is also included in the initial squad, but Jamie Ellis (back) drops out along with Calum Turner.

“It is always good getting players back,” Powell added. “We have won two of our last three games and we are in a great place. We know we can get better and we’ve got some tough games coming up to show we can do that.”

Thirteen of Dragons’ Cup-winning side could play tonight. Fouad Yaha and Jason Baitieri have been ruled out because of injury and Michael McIlorum and Mika Simon are rested.

Greg Bird will return from suspension and Vincent Duport, Lucas Albert, Thibaud Margalet, Lambert Belmas and Alrix Da Costa have also been named in the squad.

Castleford Tigers: from Clare, Clark, Eden, Gale, Holmes, Maher, Massey, Mata’utia, McMeeken, McShane, Millington, Milner, Moors, Roberts, Shenton, Trueman, Wardle, Watts, Webster.

Catalans Dragons: from Mead, Wiliame, Langi, Casty, Moa, Garcia, Bird, Bousquet, Duport, Margalet, Tierney, Jullien, Albert, Da Costa, Belmas, Gigot, Goudemand, Drinkwater, Edwards.

Referee: Greg Dolan (Widnes).

Kick-off: Tonight, 7.30pm.