Hull FC v Castleford Tigers: Players put on notice ‘to perform’ by boss Powell

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TABLE-TOPPERS CASTLEFORD Tigers are in “good nick”, as they prepare for their third game in 10 days, according to boss Daryl Powell.

Tigers will travel to Hull on Sunday looking to bounce back from Easter Monday’s 26-22 defeat at St Helens.

Daryl Powell

Daryl Powell

It is an opportunity for Tigers to put clear daylight between themselves and chasers Leeds Rhinos and Salford Red Devils, who are both in Ladbrokes Challenge Cup action this weekend.

A win in their game in hand would open a two-point gap over Leeds, but Powell admitted his team showed signs of fatigue early on against Saints and some players dropped below the standards the coach expects.

The game after Easter is often the hardest and Powell said: “It’s a tough period, no question, but it’s doable.

“I think our players look in good nick.

Hull playmaker Danny Houghton.' PIC: Bruce Rollinson

Hull playmaker Danny Houghton.' PIC: Bruce Rollinson

“We’ve not picked up too many injuries – I keep touching wood – and we are okay and in a good place.

“Obviously it was disappointing on Monday, coming up against a Saints team who were desperate to win.

“Hopefully we’ll get back on track this week, but it will be a tough game at Hull.”

The Black and Whites have conceded more than 50 points in each of their past two home games – to Salford and Leeds – but responded with a 24-10 win at Leigh Centurions four days ago.

The possible return of their Man of Steel hooker will tighten Hull’s defence and give them a psychological lift and Powell is aware Tigers will be facing opposition desperate to give their home fans something to cheer.

“They are going to have Danny Houghton back by the looks of things,” Powell said.

“He has been a big miss for them as he is a key player.

“Hull are a good side.

“They’ve had a couple of hiccups at home where they’ve conceded big scores so I imagine they’ll be desperate to play well there on Sunday.

“But we let ourselves down, particularly in the first half, on Monday and we need to respond.”

Powell was due to name his initial 19-man squad today. With most of his squad fit and available, he admitted he is considering dropping players who under-performed against Saints.

He said: “I’ve got a decision to make in the pack – who starts, who comes off the bench, who gets left out.

“We’ve a reasonably healthy pack at the moment and some of the guys in at the weekend didn’t do themselves justice.

“It will be squeaky-bum time for a couple of blokes now, but that’s the way it is.

“We need to get the best performances out and these next two weeks are key games for us.

“We need to start with Hull and perform right at the top end of our game.”

The situation now is in sharp contrast to 2016 when Tigers were ravaged by injuries.

“Last year particularly was tough, but, at the moment, we’re reasonably healthy,” Powell reported.

“But for that to be beneficial we need people playing well. We’ve got quite a lot of guys on the top of their form, but some others aren’t where they need to be and we need some to respond.

“Hopefully in the next couple of weeks we’ll see that.”