THE NEXT three games will prove if Castleford Tigers are good enough to be Grand Final contenders this year, coach Daryl Powell says.
With three rounds remaining, they are sixth in Betfred Super League behind fifth-placed Salford Red Devils on for and against, but only two points adrift of Warrington Wolves who are second.
Today’s 24-0 win at Huddersfield Giants kept alive Tigers’ hopes of finishing as runners-up to St Helens, who they play next, on the league table and Powell insisted: “I think we should be clear second, to be honest.”
Powell said: “Obviously Warrington have dropped off a bit, but we were 12 points up at Hull KR two weeks ago and ended up losing and we lost by a point at Leeds.
“There’s been games when we had a clear-cut opportunity to win, but didn’t.
“But it is what it is, we are in a position where it’s not in our hands and we have a tough run in, but I have said to the players we have got a great opportunity.
“We have got St Helens straight after the Challenge Cup final, then Hull at home and Wigan away.
“They are all tough games and, if we are going to be in the top-five, we are going to be good enough to be there. If we are good enough to be there we will be hardened because of the games we’ve played.
“It is set up perfectly for us to see if we are good enough or not.
“And, if we are good enough, I think we will have a fair chance of having a dig at it.”
Of today’s win, Powell said: “It was an important game for us. The top-five is pretty competitive at the moment, Salford won [on Saturday] and they are going really well. We needed to win and to play well. I thought there were some really good elements of our performance and some things we need to be better at.”
Powell praised his teams “defensive durability”, but admitted they took some wrong options and their kicking game wasn’t at its best.
“Some of our attacking play in the second half was good, really pleasing,” he added. “We are scratching at the surface of how good we can be. We have got some important players missing at the moment, but the boys who are in there are doing a pretty good job.”