Rampant Castleford Tigers striving to find even more room for improvement

1
Have your say

IT IS A sign of prolific Castleford Tigers’ rising standards that the Super League leaders were far from happy putting more than 50 points past Huddersfield Giants.

It sounds nonsensical but as Daryl Powell’s side look ahead to a mouthwatering game at champions Wigan Warriors on Thursday it says plenty about their growing belief and attention to detail.

Castleford celebrate victory over Huddersfield to their fans. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

Castleford celebrate victory over Huddersfield to their fans. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

At times on Friday, Castleford were simply sublime as they tore bewildered Huddersfield to pieces with their potent mixture of physicality, precision and pace.

It was a sixth win from seven games so far and, playing with such elan, they are averaging more than 40 points per match.

However, Luke Gale, the England scrum-half who fittingly marked his 250th career game with a second half hat-trick, remained circumspect.

“It was one of those games that was scrappy, if I’m honest,” he told The Yorkshire Post.

HAT-TRICK: Castleford's Luke Gale celebrates another try against Huddersfield. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

HAT-TRICK: Castleford's Luke Gale celebrates another try against Huddersfield. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

“We’re not disappointed – that would be a daft thing to say having won 52-16 – but I don’t think we played to our potential really.

“There were too many errors and it was messy.

“If we’re going to beat top sides like Wigan this week then we can’t have that many mistakes.

“That’s not to put a negative slant on it; we’ll take the two points and move on but we know we’ll have to be better come Thursday.”

Indeed, the trip to DW Stadium has all the potential to deliver the game of the season so far.

Granted, Wigan have hit a dry spell; they have not won for three games but, quite conceivably, should have won all of those having drawn with Huddersfield, missed out against Hull FC by just two points and then fallen narrowly at Leeds Rhinos on Friday during an epic encounter.

They missed eight regulars in that match, too, and could be strengthened by the time Castleford visit.

Yet, given Tigers’ formidable form as they aim for 2017 to be the year they win their first-ever league title, Powell’s side are relishing the opportunity.

“Where it’s been different in the past is we’ve been underdogs but now we’re going into games and most of the time we’re favourites,” added Gale.

“People want to knock us off the top spot so, look, we know it’s going to be a massive test against Wigan. “We can’t perform like we did versus Huddersfield again.

“Our defence will have to be massive and this game has been billed up a long time now on Sky – I think they’ve been talking about if for the last five weeks.

“But we, like everyone, are really looking forward to it.”

Meanwhile, Gale’s second effort against Huddersfield saw the 28-year-old reach 100 career tries while with six goals for 24 points he equalled the club’s record for points in a Super League game for a second time already this term.

Furthermore, the former Bradford Bulls captain now has eight tries for the season, behind only team-mates Greg Minikin (nine) and Greg Eden (10) in the entire competition’s leading list.

Not ordinarily renowned for his try-scoring, Gale said: “I saw a Tweet from (former Castleford team-mate) Luke Dorn giving me some stick on that, saying it must be a typo me scoring a hat-trick!

“Cheers, Mr Dorn. I am enjoying it all and we’ve got some unbelievable options at the moment.

“Benny (Roberts) was outstanding as were both edges where we’ve got great fluency.

“Then Rangi (Chase) comes on and does his magic, Oggy (Oli Holmes) coming back from injury…

“But that’s what good teams have – plenty of options – and long may it continue.”

Powell was able to leave out veteran prop Andy Lynch, while loose forward Nathan Massey was allowed to rest some niggles, too.

Minikin is still sidelined, also, although the in-form winger will hope to be fit for Wigan.

However, robust forward Junior Moors is almost certain to miss out after being helped off with an ankle injury that Powell admitted afterwards “did not look great.”