Castleford Tigers head coach Daryl Powell has put his side’s stunning start to the Super 8s down to a change of mentality since they were blown away in the second half of their last meeting with Warrington Wolves.
Victories over top three sides Hull FC and Wigan Warriors have kept alive the Tigers’ slim hopes of reaching the play-offs and have highlighted how much the defence has toughened up since 42 points were conceded against Warrington at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle last month.
“We are delighted that we have been able to beat a couple of teams at the top at the start of the Super 8s,” Powell told the Express.
“It gives us a great chance of moving on in a positive way now.
“We’ve changed our mentality a little bit. That’s been the plan for a little while and we’ve started to see the fruits of the hard work and the focus the players have been working on so it’s been really good.
“It was a really committed performance I thought in all aspects of the game against Wigan.
“We conceded a couple of tries in a short period when Olly Holmes got sin-binned, but I thought for the most part we were really solid, much more committed and it backed up the Hull performance in terms of the way we went after Wigan.
“We started really well and I thought for pretty much all the game there was a real focus about us. We defended our line well.”
Powell has not given up on reaching the top four this year, but whatever happens he believes the performances for the rest of 2016 are building a platform for next season.
He said: “It’s nice to have beaten two top four sides, but we want to be a top four team ourselves.
“We’re still after that this year. It looks tough, but we’ll just keep fighting for it and keep looking to improve, which is something I think we’re really showing signs of.
“If we can keep improving in all areas then we just give ourselves a chance of being that top four team that we’re striving for.
“All ways round we’re looking a really difficult team to beat and there’s a number of players in there who are improving on a regular basis.
“We’ve been great at that over the last three years and it’s good to see it’s back again.
“We seemed to lose our mojo for a little bit, but we’ve certainly got it back at the moment.”
Powell was pleased to have finally got one over Wigan after going out of the Challenge Cup to them and losing to the Warriors twice in the regular season.
He added: “I thought we should have beaten Wigan last time we played them at home. We were really unlucky in that game.
“It was good to win this time and just to put a marker down as well to show how good we can be as a team.
“There’s lots of quality in our team across every position and we’ve proved that over the last couple of games to a lot of people and particularly to ourselves.
“We’ve got so much going for us and we’ve just got to make sure it’s there every time we go out.
“If we’ve got a focus to defend we know we’re not going to be far off because we can certainly attack.
“It was great to do it in front of our home fans.
“We haven’t been great at home so we owe a little bit in terms of our performances at home. We’ve been real shaky and up and down. In some ways there’s been reasons for that, but ultimately that’s where you want your real fortress to be and it hasn’t been.”