Two teams looking for a response after poor displays last weekend are set to go head to head when Castleford Tigers are away to Salford Red Devils on Sunday.
Both sides have something to prove after Salford were knocked out of the Challenge Cup by Championship side Leigh and the Tigers suffered their heaviest defeat of the season at Widnes.
Castleford boss Daryl Powell refused to blame Widnes’s notorious artificial pitch or being without nine injured first teamers and is demanding an immediate improvement, but knows his players have bounced back from setbacks already this season.
He told the Express: “We really need to respond in the right way this week. It was a poor performance from start to finish at Widnes.
“ There were two or three players who did themselves justice, but apart from that we were pretty disappointed with the whole effort and the outcome. Quite a lot of players just weren’t where they needed to be.
“We have turned round poor performances a few times this season and it’s probably something happening in the whole competition this year. It’s up and down, a couple of wins here, a loss there, and we’re trying to change that and be a little bit more consistent.
“It’s a bit of theme for us that we win two then get beat and we want to rack three or four wins up.
“But generally the team has responded in a positive way when we do get beat and come back with something that gets us a victory and that’s something we need to do now against Salford then the week after and the week after that.”
Salford will be without four suspended first teamers, including their former Cas favourites Rangi Chase and Weller Hauraki, but Powell warned his players that they will still need to play well to do the double against the Red Devils.
He said: “They’re a threat all across the field so if we go in there half-cock we’ll get beat no questions so the focus for us is to be right on top of our game, similar to what we were against Warrington and Hull KR, and deliver a similar sort of performance.
”This week’s game is about us. It’s all about what we turn up with.
“There’s a few things flying about there with injuries and suspensions, but we’ve just got to completely distance ourselves from that and focus on what we’ve got to do.
“Obviously we were poor last week in terms of what we delivered and they’ll be disappointed with what they delivered in the cup. It’s two teams wanting to respond and it’s the one that does it the best.
“We understand what they’re about, but we need to make sure we deliver and that’s the main focus this week.
“There will be no Rangi Chase to play against, but I thought we dealt with him pretty well last time, to be honest.
“He’s an outstanding player, but they’ve still got some other very good players. I really like Niall Evalds at full-back, Theo Fages is a very good player and they’ve still got people like Adrian Morley up front and Lama Tasi who are very good alongside some others.”
Powell hopes to have at least two of the injured nine back in the Cas team for the trip across the Pennines.
He added: “I’ll check on guys as we go through the week as to who will be available, but there is potential for some to return.
“Luke Gale I would hope will be back. He pulled his hamstring in the game against Hull KR. It didn’t seem anything too major, but it’s just hung about a bit and it kept him out of the Widnes game.
“But he’s a durable character and I’m hopeful he’ll be okay this week. Junior Moors potentially as well.
“Frankie Mariano I don’t think will be available. Denny Solomona is probably another week away.
“I don’t think Jake Webster will play. He’s had a scan that’s shown some problems with his vertebrae, with some bulging discs. There’s further exploration needed to make sure he’s okay.”