CASTLEFORD TIGERS will stick to a successful template when they take on Huddersfield Giants at The Shay, Halifax.
Tigers beat Giants 18-12 on home soil four months ago and coach Terry Matterson said they plan to follow a similar approach this weekend.
“We are going to have to be right on top of our game, as we were when they played them early on,” he said. “We were good defensively, we had a good kicking game and with the ball we were really good, in difficult conditions.
“That was a pretty good blueprint.”
The game is a rehearsal for next month’s Carnegie Challenge Cup quarter-final, which will be played at Cas’ Probiz Coliseum.
Tomorrow’s fixture will effectively be played on neutral territory, as Giants’ regular Galpharm Stadium base is unavailable due to work on the pitch. “We are pleased about that,” Matterson admitted. “But we are up against a side who are playing well and are confident. They have got plenty of threat with the ball and they certainly defend well, but winning our last two games has certainly made us feel a lot better.”
Tigers crushed Harlequins 56-24 last Sunday but Matterson reckons they will need a much-improved performance tomorrow. “There are things we need to do better,” he said. “Defensively, at times we weren’t good enough. There were some lapses in concentration and that’s an area we’ll have to really improve.
“We know they have got threats all over the park, but it is an important game to win at this stage of the season.”
Giants assistant-coach Paul Anderson – who is from Castleford – insisted Tigers must be treated with respect.
“They are a good side and they are within the play-off spots for the reason that their performances have merited picking up enough points,” Anderson said.
Tigers are without centre Willie Isa, who suffered the latest in a series of ankle injuries during last week’s win over Harlequins.
But that is the only piece of bad news for Matterson on the selection front, with three key players back in contention.
Aussie three-quarter Nick Youngquest has been named in the initial 19 and could feature for the first time since suffering a knee injury against Salford on April 10.
Paul Jackson – who damaged his back in the warm-up before the defeat at Warrington Wolves last month – is also ready to make his comeback, along with Martin Aspinwall, who tore a calf in the same game.
There is no place for Ryan Hudson, with Adam Milner and Daryl Clark set to continue sharing the hooking role. Ryan McGoldrick is again left out.
Giants’ squad includes Scott Grix, who suffered a head injury in last week’s win at Hull. Shaun Lunt drops out from that team, with Eorl Crabtree, Graeme Horne and Joe Wardle all in contention for a call-up.
Huddersfield Giants from: Grix, McGillvary, Cudjoe, Lawrence, Hodgson, Brown, Brough, Mason, Robinson, Griffin, Kirmond, Gilmour, Faiumu, Fa’alogo, Patrick, Raleigh, Crabtree, Horne, Wardle.
Castleford Tigers from: Mathers, Dixon, Arundel, Thompson, Owen, Chase, Orr, Fozzard, Milner, Emmitt, Jones, Ferres, Snitch, Walker, Thompson, Widders, Clark, Youngquest, Aspinwall.
Referee: Ben Thaler (Wakefield).
Kick-off: Tomorrow, 5.45pm, at The Shay.