Castleford Tigers boss Daryl Powell has heaped praised on several of his players for their outstanding displays in the 42-10 win over Leeds Rhinos at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle.
While teenage half-back talent Jake Trueman was an obvious stand-out with an eye-catching display, forwards Nathan Massey and Mitch Clark and winger James Clare were also strong candidates for man of the match and winger Greg Eden made an encouraging return to the starting line-up after recovering from a hamstring injury.
Powell told the Express: “Jake Trueman scored two tries and created another three and on the back of that there were a few half-breaks as well.
“He’s had some really good games for us, obviously his debut was a stand-out when he scored three tries. But this was an 80-minute performance of control and smart rugby league.
“He picked a weakness in the Leeds defensive line and exploited it very well so it was a pretty accomplished effort from him.”
Powell continued: “Nathan Massey has played really well for the last four weeks. He’s really responded to a couple of chats.
“He was outstanding and his 20 carries (against Leeds) brought big metres - I think he was our biggest metre carrier.
“That’s great to see someone like Mass going really well. He’s a Cas boy and he’s playing some of his best rugby at the moment, which is great to see.
“I thought Mitch Clark was outstanding as well. He came off the bench and had big metres.
“His energy to carry the ball is outstanding and I love the way he’s been durable and persistent throughout the year.
“He hasn’t played a lot of football for us, but at the moment he looks like he’s going to be a really strong player for us in the future.
“I’m so pleased with how he’s come back from being at Featherstone for most of the year.
“A number of this year’s signings have come through well. I suppose that’s what we pride ourselves on, trying to get the right players.
“You’re not always going to get it right, it’s impossible to do that, but players coming through and proving you have and improving as players is great. Mitch is one of those.
“I’ve been watching Mitch play for quite a few years, to be honest, and I’m delighted to see him playing well.
“He’s a bit of a crowd favourite and you can see why with the way he carries the ball. He’s just a handful. He carries the ball 100 miles an hour and he’s got no fear of reputation.
“He doesn’t mind getting whacked, he doesn’t mind whacking people, he’s great and I really like the way he’s playing.”
On his impressive wingers, Powell said: “Greg Eden’s first carry was an indication of what we have been missing a little bit. He goes straight through and even though the pass is not great at the end of it he just shows what he can do with his speed.
“It’s good to have him back. He’s got a different edge to his game and as he gets fitter he’s going to be a lot better as well.
“He came through the game fine and hopefully he’s over his hamstring problems.
“I was really pleased with Sticks (James Clare) and the way he’s come back from injury.
“He had some good games for us at the start of the year, but his last two performances have been at another level. That’s the best I’ve seen him play at the weekend.
“He’s doing some things at the moment that’s growing some confidence in himself, the way he’s carrying the ball very direct and robust.
“He didn’t have that before and he’s got a robustness about him now that’s really positive for us.
“It’s big for him to sign a new deal and good for us to give us some depth in the outside backs.
“I think there’s a lot more potential in James Clare, he need to believe it a little bit more. He just needs to grow his confidence and if he does then he’ll be an excellent winger for us.
Powell, meanwhile, was pleased with the way all of his players responded to their disappointing display the previous week at Catalans.
He added: “I thought we were very good and we needed that response.
“I was a bit disappointed with their second try, it was a bit of a soft one, but we eased our way back into the game and took a couple of opportunities that came our way before completely dominating the second half.
“In the first half we kept making errors in good attacking positions and there’s going to need to be some tweaking and improvement there, we’ll do some work on that this week.
“We weren’t just quite finishing our chances off, but Leeds, to be fair to them, defended really well and kept us out.
“We dropped the ball over the line twice in the first half and there were five or six last ditch tackles where they just held us up.
“We were stretching and challenging them without quite getting the polish to finish the tries off, but we were certainly creating enough.
“It tends to take its toll later on in the game and it certainly did that. We played better in the second half, finished better and were more clinical in what we did, but they fatigued pretty heavily in the last period of the game.”