Castleford Tigers head coach Daryl Powell was delighted with his side’s 32-24 away win against Catalans Dragons which all but confirmed the Super League leaders a semi-final spot in the end of season play-offs.
Castleford were reduced to 11 men at one point following the sin-binning of Kevin Larroyer (unsportsmanlike behaviour) and Mike McMeeken (holding down in the tackle) but did enough to cope with that double setback.
There were two tries from Castleford’s Jy Hitchcox, while Hardaker, Greg Minikin and Paul McShane also touched down. Luke Gale kicked five goals and Hardaker added one.
Catalans scored tries through Lucas Albert, Tony Gigot and Fouad Yaha and a penalty try was also awarded when the ball was kicked from Vincent Duport’s hands as he was in the process of touching down. Gigot added four goals.
Powell said: “I think it is a big win for us obviously. The circumstances of it with us going down to 11 men and still defending like we did. I thought there was some really tough calls out there. I don’t know how they gave that try in the corner (Duport’s try in the 68th minute was awarded as a penalty try by the video official).”
Powell continued: “I just thought the character and effort from us was outstanding. I thought we started the game really well and then allowed Catalans back into it a little bit.
“I thought they played really well at the back end of the first half but I thought we did some special things when we were under pressure. I thought that Jy Hitchcox produced two world-class finishes and as a team we just have so much character and determination and we’re not willing to be beaten. It was a fantastic win for us.”
Powell commented on the warm conditions in Perpignan, with temperatures reaching 30 degrees.
He said: “It was warm out there. We’re playing against a really physical team, they’ve minimal injuries and we’ve got six or seven injuries so for us to come away from home to Catalans in these conditions was a huge, huge effort for us to win that game.”
After seeing his side throw away a two-point lead with five minutes remaining to lose 32-24, Catalans head coach Steve McNamara was left disappointed as he suffered his fourth defeat in five games.
He admitted: “I’m disappointed we never closed the game off. I thought we were in a position to win the game after a dreadful start, we dominated large parts of that game. Our lack of ability to control the ball and control the period of time the Castleford were down to 12 men and 11 men for a short period of time probably cost us.”
McNamara was pleased with the way that his side is moving forward in terms of discipline and giving away penalties.
“I think that we’ve been better on discipline and penalties for a few weeks now. I think we had some serious issues in the past, I’ve investigated those and I’ve looked into those and tried to help us improve in and around that area I think that was clearly evident today.
“We were on the end of a 13-4 penalty count last weekend and the players just got on with the job and we were in the contest until the last five minutes. We’ve improved in a lot of areas.
“We’ve been competitive in every game since I’ve been here, we’ve given ourselves a chance to win every game since I’ve been here and a lot of that has been down to sheer hard work, effort, energy and the ability to turn up to work every day and try and improve.
“To try and be a successful team, not only now but in the future, a team has to have those qualities. Now our job is to add some polish on top of that but you can’t put that first, you have to have those attributes first and over the last five weeks, we’ve gone a long way to reinstating those in the Catalans Dragons.”