BOTH COACHES are expecting a fierce derby at the Jungle on Sunday, despite what happened just three weeks ago.
Castleford Tigers thrashed neighbours Wakefield Trinity Wildcats 32-6 in a full-scale trial game on January 24, but Daryl Powell and Brian Smith are predicting a much closer encounter with Super League points at stake.
“It will have no bearing at all,” Powell insisted of last month’s hit out. “We saw last Sunday that pre-season results have very little to do with what happens in the regular season, for all sorts of reasons.
“We know it will be a tough game. They were pretty close against Widnes last week and we know they are going to be really competitive.
“We need to make sure we are on our game right from the start.”
Powell was disappointed with Tigers’ performance in the 16-16 draw at Hull KR – who had been well-beaten in their two warm-up games – six days ago, but is confident they can put right the parts of their game which let them down.
“They are easily fixable,” he said. “We made some poor decisions that cost us and we need a bit more clarity with our game. We were off with our execution, but there were some really good lessons for us to learn from last week.
“We have got to roll up and play our game and we need to improve significantly. It is our first game at home and we need to show Castleford Tigers is a tough place to come.”
Smith reckons Tigers are a model Wildcats should try to follow.
“I saw Cas play some really exciting footy last year,” he said. “I like the brand of rugby league they play, but I think we might give them a bit more of a run than we have in the recent past.
Certainly in the pre-season game they gave us a bit of a spanking and I would hope we will get a lot closer to them this weekend.”
Wakefield lost their opener 24-16 last week, but Smith believes they are still a work in progress.
He said: “We’ve got a new half-back, young hookers who are trying to establish themselves, a new full-back and other new players.
“We have got a whole new feel about us, we should get better as the season goes on and I am confident we will. I would be really happy if we hit our stride this weekend and didn’t stop all the way through the season, but we’ve got to be realistic.”
Tigers are without Ryan Boyle and Michael Shenton from last week’s team. Andy Lynch and Nathan Massey could return from injury and Ryan Hampshire and Will Maher are also in contention. Smith will select from last week’s 17, plus Ashley Gibson and Jason Walton. Richard Owen and Mickael Simon return from injury when a Wildcats select face Dewsbury reserves at Belle Vue today (1pm).
Wakefield have been fined £20,000 by the RFL, half suspended until the end of this season, over racist chanting by a section of fans during last August’s home win over Bradford.
Castleford Tigers: from Dorn, Monaghan, Crooks, Webster, Solomona, Roberts, Gale, Millington, McShane, Cook, O Holmes, McMeeken, Jewitt, Milner, Moors, Lynch, Hampshire, Massey, Maher.
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats: from Jones-Bishop, Johnstone, B Tupou, Arundel, Lyne, Miller, Finn, Scruton, Howarth, England, Ashurst, Kirmond, Arona, Sio, Anderson, A Tupou, Molloy, Gibson, Walton.
Referee: James Child (Batley). Kick-off: Tomorrow, 3.30pm.