Castleford Tigers making a case for defence

Castleford Tigers' Ben Roberts takes on two Hull defenders in last week's Super 8s game. Picture: Matthew Merrick
Castleford Tigers' Ben Roberts takes on two Hull defenders in last week's Super 8s game. Picture: Matthew Merrick

Castleford Tigers boss Daryl Powell believes his side are showing an improved durability that will help them in the Betfred Super League play-offs.

The Tigers head coach was pleased with the defensive side of his team’s performance in their 28-8 win at Hull that made certain of Castleford’s participation in the end of season play-offs for the second year in succession.

While they have not quite been at their attacking best in recent weeks Cas have shown a much improved defence, conceding just 12 points in their last two matches, and Powell wants that to continue as they take on Huddersfield Giants at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle tonight.

He said: “I think we’ve learned some lessons from the way that we played in the Grand Final. And on not getting rattled by the way a team plays against you; if they get the ascendancy we have some durability about us at the moment when we’re having to defend.

“I think we’re sort of playing slightly differently at times. We had some tough conditions the other night. It didn’t look it, but it was really slippy. When you throw a load of water on a field before kick-off I suppose it’s to be expected. I do not understand why they do that.

“I think we’ve learned a fair bit and it’s given us a real willingness to get back and put the record straight and give ourselves the chance of winning the competition.”

Castleford have a shorter turnaround for tonight’s game, but Powell sees the game as a good opportunity to keep on improving.

He added: “I think we defended outstandingly well and we need to do that again against Huddersfield.

“They caused us a lot of trouble when they played here the other week and we’re going to need to improve on that performance.

“But I think our last three performances, particularly defensively, and three-and-a-half actually as we only conceded four points in the second half against Wigan, have been good. We’ve had three halves of football without a point conceded - all first halves - which is a real plus for us.

It has been a tough year certainly from the combinations point of view. We’ve played seven full-backs so that’s been difficult.

“We’ve been managing people into the team so we haven’t had a great fluency with the ball at times, but defensively we’ve got to a point where I think we’re really tough to break down.

“There is a real aggression about our defensive effort and we’re in a good place. Three on the spin now and we’ve a good opportunity with two home games now.

“If we can get these two right then, I know second looks a tough gig, but third would be a great achievement for us and then we’re one game away from a Grand Final.”

Cas will be without Oliver Holmes for the game after the back-rower picked up a hamstring injury, but forward Jesse Sene-Lefao and outside back Greg Minikin are back in the squad after injury.