Castleford Tigers boss Daryl Powell believes his side are developing a durability now to go along with their well known attacking prowess.
After improved defensive efforts against Hull and Wigan at the start of the Super 8s the Tigers came within a whisker of a third top three scalp at Warrington last Saturday despite being forced into a rearguard action for long periods.
They were undone right at the death with Warrington clinching a 14-11 victory with a try from the last play of the game, but the match showed again how Cas have become more battle hardened in the last few weeks.
Head coach Powell said: “We’re becoming something a little bit different than we’ve seen from Castleford in the past.
“There’s a durability and a toughness and we might not have got the result (at Warrington), but it said a lot about us. We’re disappointed to have lost the game, but I’m more interested in what we’re trying to become.
“Some of the things that are generally good about us, our attacking game, was pretty average so if we can knit it all together I think we’ve got a special team on our hands.
“It’s certainly got a big future this team and I think what we’ve done in the last three weeks is going to stand us in good stead for what we’re going to do next year.”
Powell was delighted with the way his side defended at Warrington.
He said: “The start was ridiculous. We just couldn’t get our hands on the ball and I think it was seven sets to one at one point – but we hung in and kept them out.
“They got a try on us, but we defended so well for massive periods. You look at Warrington’s strengths and I think we nullified them for pretty much all of the game.
“I’ve been really pleased with the attitude and commitment the players have been showing on a regular basis. We’re only going to grow from this.
“We’ve got some more challenges this year, which we want to front up to. Ultimately it’s about being a consistent team and a tough team.”
Castleford now have to win all four of their remaining games and hope fourth-placed St Helens lose all of their matches if they are to reach the end of season play-offs, but Powell promised his team would keep going to the end of the season.
He added: “It’s tough for us to reach the top four. It was always going to be tough, but we thought we could win all our games.
“I genuinely believed we could win all of them and we were only a fraction away at Warrington.
“We’ll keep going because it’s about this season still, but it’s a growing, developing group of players and club, which I’m really interested in.
“It will be a tough gig, but we’re not going to stop going after it.”