CASTLEFORD TIGERS have made a perfect start to the season, in terms of results, but winger James Clare has warned they need to improve.
Tigers beat Challenge Cup holders Catalans Dragons 20-4 in Betfred Super League round one and were 26-18 victors at Hull last Friday.
Though the 2017 league leaders go into the World Club Challenge break third in the table, Clare felt they were well below par at KCOM Stadium and will be working hard to get better for their next game at London Broncos on Saturday, February 23.
“I don’t think we could play any worse and get a win,” Clare insisted of the match five days ago.
“We were a little bit better against Catalans in the first game, but it was a really scrappy performance last week.
“But if you’d said at the beginning of the season we could be two wins from two, regardless of how we played, we would have taken it so it is a good start.”
We just need to be a little bit smarter.James Clare
He added: “Hull is always an extremely difficult place to go at whatever time of the year, whether it’s their first home game or the end of the season.
“They did exactly what we expected them to do, but we just needed to be a little bit better.”
Tigers led by 10 early on, but found themselves 12-10 behind after half an hour and the result was in the balance throughout.
“We got a good start,” Clare recalled. “If we had finished [their chances] a bit better and nailed the completion it might have been 20 or 30-0 by half-time.
“But we were keeping them contained in their half and kicking well, but turning the ball over with little silly errors.
“We just need to be a little bit smarter.”
Tigers’ goal line defence has been on top form in both their games so far and Clare reckons that is the biggest positive.
He said: “I think there were two or three against Hull that were genuine try savers. There were a couple where we planned to drag them back in to make them go 10 metres and play the ball, but the desperation by the lads to actually get in there and pull off try-saving tackles like that is hopefully a sign of a winning team.”
Clare opened his try account for the season with one against Hull and that was a boost to his personal confidence.
“It’s nice,” he remarked. “A lot of ball goes down the left side so it’s difficult for a left winger for Cas Tigers, but to get on the scoresheet is always nice.”
Castleford have no game this weekend when most Super League clubs take a break for Sunday’s World Club Challenge.
“As much as you’d like to play every week and build your consistency I think this might be good for us,” Clare predicted.
“There’s been two intense, really hard games so it’ll still be a tough week, but chance to work on the little bits we need to do skill-wise and our completion and then hopefully we can kick on to a good round three.
“There’s some massive positives. I think Cas are looking different this year defensively. The last couple of years in those big, tough games we’ve dropped off a little bit.
“Showing we are turning up for each other – the line speed in their 20 when we are trying to trap them down there – Castleford are looking massively different.
“We just need to play a little bit smarter and, if we can fix a few things up, hopefully we can kick on.”
Hull’s Scott Taylor has been banned for a total of three games over two separate incidents of dangerous contact against Tigers.