Castleford gearing up for tough cup test

Matt Cook in action for Castleford Tigers against Salford this year.
Matt Cook in action for Castleford Tigers against Salford this year.

Justin Carney’s return to the Mend-A-Hose Jungle is likely to take many of the headlines, but Salford Red Devils are about more than just the controversial Australian winger according to Daryl Powell.

The Castleford Tigers head coach is expecting his players to face a big test when they enter the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup on Saturday with a televised home tie against a Salford side that have surprised many this year.

The Red Devils already have a win at the ground under their belts in 2016 when they went away with a 32-16 success in March and will be keen to double up in a bid to reach the quarter-finals of the famous competition.

““They’ve been a bit of a surprise package this year and have done really well,” Cas boss Powell told the Express.

“They’re playing pretty well. They took Catalans close and had a good win against Hull KR last weekend so we are expecting a challenge.

“We know what to expect as they’ve beaten us this year, but it was a close game. The score got away a little bit at the end, but there was a key turning point in there when they intercepted the ball when it looked like we were going to score.

“Salford have become hard to play against. I’ve been impressed with (coach) Ian Watson. He’s put a lot of little bits in their game that really challenge you.

“Gareth O’Brien at the back has given them another element to their game. They’ve effectively got three half-backs on the field.

“Justin Carney will be back and he’s a good player. He’s obviously got history at the club and we need to look after him and play well ourselves.

“But they’ve got other threats – Junior Sa’u’s playing well and they’ve got Lui and Dobson at half-back that are pretty dangerous.

“Their outside backs cause you a lot of trouble and in the back row there’s Masila and Weller Hauraki. They’ve got a good skills set and a good balance in their play so they will be a threat.

“To shut them out is quite difficult, they do score a lot of points, so our defence is going to need to step up a fair bit.”

Powell is keen for a good cup run after taking the Tigers to the final two years ago.

He said: “The club’s got a lot of history in the Challenge Cup so it’s obviously an important competition for us.

“A couple of years back we were in the final and it was great for us. So we know we’ve got to get our performance right and be more consistent over 80 minutes and all elements of the game.

“It’s an important game and it’s knockout football so you need to be on your money.

“It’s a game we’re really looking forward to and it’s important we go out there and play close to our potential.”