Castleford Tigers head coach Daryl Powell was pleased that his players were given a good workout in Sunday’s game against Bradford Bulls, but admitted having to come from behind was not part of the script.
He said: “I thought we started really poorly. Defensively we were loose, Bradford came with a bit of intent about them, which I’d spoken to the boys about, and they were a little bit too good for us.
“I’d said to the boys before the game that I think Bradford have been training pretty much since we finished. They obviously finished pretty early and Jimmy Lowes was keen to change the attitude at the club which he’d worked hard on at the end of last season.
“I thought Bradford came out with a fair bit more intent than we did and it took us a while to get to grips with the intensity of the game.
“Obviously, we had a lot of boys playing their first game but I expected us to be a little bit better than that.
“It took us a while to get to the pace of the game, but once we’d had a chat at half-time we’d smartened ourselves up a bit and pretty much controlled the second half without ever being fluent in our play.
“We weren’t great in terms of our execution of our plays but they are always difficult those games. We never really got a flow about us but I thought our attitude increased significantly in the second half and was probably the biggest difference for us.
“It was a tough game and we learned a few things from it, some good, some bad.
“The game was good for us. It’s important you have a tough match. There’s no point winning easily in pre-season.
“We’ve had a couple of hit outs and it has been a mix. It’s always a mix at this time of the year. We’ve got quite a few new players in there. We are building combinations and we will look to improve again after this game.
“It’s important now that we step up. We’ve got a bit of a job over the next three weeks to show that we’re where we need to be to play against Wakefield.”
Powell praised several players for their performance.
He added: “For me, Steve Crossley was our best player and I thought Justin Carney was very good as well, some of the things he did at the back.
“Scott Moore came off the bench and was really combative and Jordan Tansey did well coming off the bench as well.
“There were a lot of players playing their first game and when you’ve been out of the physical contact element of 100 per cent when you are against opposition it tends to take a while to get used to.
“The half-backs did okay. Galey did well and Benny Roberts did well in the second half - we didn’t get much good field position in the first half.
“We’re still learning about where we play from, what players we use, execution of them and making sure we get the detail right. They did some pretty smart things in the second half and we had control of the game, which we could never grab hold of in the first.
“The second half was much more pleasing and the combinations will continue to grow.”