Castleford coach Daryl Powell is confident his side are back on the right track after gaining a 28-18 victory over Hull in the Betfred Super League.
The Grand Final runners-up began the season on a woeful note with a 46-6 thrashing at St Helens but got off the mark with a one-point win over Widnes and on Saturday showed glimpses of their sparkling 2017 form as they came from 8-0 down to beat the Black and Whites.
Tries from threequarters Greg Minikin and Jake Webster, who crossed just before the break, helped the Tigers turn around 10-8 in front and they went on to dominate the second half.
“There were some periods in the game where we were really impressive,” Powell said. “We played some smart stuff and scored some decent tries.
“When we got to grips with the game, I thought we were excellent.
“Hull started the better but, once we got going, that try just before half-time was pretty important, it helped settle us down.
“We haven’t been fantastic so far but we’re getting better and that’s the key.
“We’re on a bit of a slow-burner at the moment and can feel a lot more confident after today. We just need to keep improving.”
Castleford’s man of the match was stand-off Jamie Ellis on his second appearance since re-joining the club.
“I thought he was really good,” Powell said. “He got his hands on the ball a lot, threatened with his running game and created tries from his passing and kicking game.
“He can be really pleased, he’s starting to fit in with what we’re doing.”
There was also an eye-catching debut for former Huddersfield centre Joe Wardle until it was cut short by injury.
Wardle, signed from Newcastle Knights as a second rower, found himself back in the threequarters after winger Greg Eden was forced off with a hamstring injury and he helped created two tries for skipper Michael Shenton.
Alex Foster, who began the match in the front row, was then switched to centre after Wardle went off with a hamstring injury.
“It’s good we’ve got blokes who can fill in in different positions,” said Powell, who says Wardle and Eden are both doubtful for Thursday’s game at Hull KR.
Hull have now suffered back-to-back defeats after starting off the season with a win over Huddersfield and coach Lee Radford could not hide his disappointment at their latest display.
“Performance-wise, there were so many people not at the races, it was scary,” Radford said. “We were always going to be second best.
“Any time we had a chance of getting back in the game we made a schoolboy error. If you give them opportunities, they look all right.
“You send messages to the same people but for whatever reason keep making the same decisions and that’s the frustration as a coach. Hopefully the penny will drop for next week.
“We’ve gone from consistently at seven and eight (out of 10) across the board down to four and five. It’s got me asking some questions. Mickey Paea was the only positive to come out today.”
Castleford: Roberts, Minikin, Webster, Shenton, Eden, Ellis, Gale, Foster, McShane, Millington, Holmes, McMeeken, Milner. Subs: Moors, Massey, Sene-Lefao, Wardle.
Hull: Shaul, Faraimo, Connor, Griffin, Talanoa, Kelly, Sneyd, Paea, Hadley, Watts, Washbrook, Minichiello, Bowden. Subs: Tuimavave, Abdull, Fash, Matongo.
Referee: Chris Kendall (RFL)