Daryl Powell admits his Castleford Tigers side will need to step up their defensive game if they are to achieve a top 10 finish in this year’s Super League.
The Tigers head coach was pleased with the way his side hit back from 10 points down with 12 minutes to play to win 42-38 at Widnes – despite having to make their comeback while talisman Rangi Chase was in the sin-bin.
The win saw Cas draw level with 11th placed Widnes and they can move to within two points of Bradford in ninth if they can follow up with another success against the Bulls at the Wish Communications Stadium on Sunday.
But after averaging 40 points conceded in their last four games the Tigers are still undoing their attacking work with soft defence and Powell is looking for an improvement in that area this week.
He told the Express: “I seem to be saying this every week, but we need to step up defensively because Bradford have some quality about them.
“They are physical up front and have some size there with Scruton and Manuokafoa. They have speed and size out wide and their half-backs are clever. Luke Gale will challenge the line and Sammut’s got a box of tricks so alongside Kearney at the back they’ve got some clever players.
“They can certainly put us under pressure and we need to step up a little bit.
“It’s an important game for us because we want to finish as high up the table as we can and we can still catch Bradford. Points difference is important as well as theirs is significantly better than ours and while we can finish with 22 points I expect they will also.
“It was a crucial win at Widnes. We are coming to the end of the season and the games we’re playing now are against teams round us in the table. We want to start climbing and it would have been very difficult if we had lost.
“But now we’re on level points with Widnes and we have given ourselves a chance to start moving up.”
Castleford look like being without five injured first teamers with hooker Daryl Clark set to join the absentees list for the Bulls game after picking up an ankle injury at Widnes.
Powell explained: “We have got a few with bumps and bruises. Rangi had a bit of an ankle problem and Craig Huby picked up a small injury. But Daryl Clark would be the main doubt I would say.
“He hurt his ankle when he looked like he was going to go through. He probably won’t play on Sunday, but we’ll see how he goes through the week.
“There won’t be any other players back. Jonny Walker is still not close to coming back and Olly Holmes is out for the season so it will be the same squad to choose from.”
Powell will decide if he is to continue with the experiment of Michael Shenton at full-back after being pleased with the way his skipper played in his unfamiliar role at Widnes.
He said: “I changed things a bit with Richard Owen playing on the wing and Michael Shenton at full-back.
“I didn’t think Jordan Tansey had played that well against Warrington and he let a couple of soft tries in. Players have got to play consistently well and there has to be consequences if they don’t. Sometimes you don’t have that much of an option if you have injuries, but in this case I felt I needed to leave Jordan out and no doubt he’ll respond to that.
“I thought Michael Shenton was good. He set a try up from a scrum and was pretty safe in behind and carried the ball back well from kick returns.
“For his first time back there for a fair while – since he was 17 I think – he did a good job for us.
“It’s good to have players who can play in a variety of positions. Obviously Michael’s been an out and out centre and he’s an outstanding centre, but there may be different times in the future that I’ll use him at full-back.
“Jordan Tansey’s a good full-back, he’ll get plenty of game time there, he just needs to prove he can be consistent there.”