Castleford Tigers v Wigan Warriors: Crucial for Tigers to take their revenge '“ Daryl Powell

Hooker Paul McShane could move into injured Samoan stand-off Benny Robertss placeHooker Paul McShane could move into injured Samoan stand-off Benny Robertss place
Hooker Paul McShane could move into injured Samoan stand-off Benny Robertss place
THERE are still eight more games to go in Super League but Castleford Tigers coach Daryl Powell admits tonight's fixture with Wigan Warriors is already 'crucial' to their prospects.

After successive wins on the road at Leeds Rhinos and against leaders Warrington in Newcastle, his side return to the comforts of Wheldon Road this evening for the visit of Shaun Wane’s team.

If they can can deliver a fourth consecutive victory – the West Yorkshire club also eclipsed Salford in the Challenge Cup – they will edge closer to their main target of the top-four.

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They then have seven further games in Super 8s to ultimately reach that point but the work, realistically, has to start now.

“You look at where Wigan are (fourth) and this would close the gap to three points,” said Powell.

“It gives us a little bit of an edge towards the top-four and hanging around there, which is what we are trying to aim for.

“It’s a crucial game for us in particular. We’ve had some reasonable success against Wigan here and we’d like to think we can go on with this game, too.”

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Castleford, seventh, lost 26-12 at Wigan last month but have improved markedly since and, even considering the season-ending injury to stand-off Benny Roberts, are well-placed to reverse that.

“It was a tight game over there,” recalled Powell. “They ended up being just a little bit too good for us, but there was not an awful lot in it.

“We defended pretty well, but they were just a bit too good on the night. Hopefully we can flip it.”

Wigan are two points adrift of leaders Hull FC, having vanquished Leeds 40-8 at Magic Weekend, directly after Castleford’s stunning win versus Warrington when they overcame a 14-0 deficit to prosper 34-14.

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Asked if that rally gave his side more confidence, Powell admitted: “Yes, I think so.

“We were under a fair bit of pressure after half-an-hour and to get ourselves back to where we did and go on and win the game without conceding any further points was a strong all-round performance.

“There’s a real confidence in there. The team is functioning well and we adapted very well to losing Benny Roberts like we did. The previous four, five weeks in terms of how we’ve adjusted our squad really helped us with that. The team’s responded well to a couple of tough situations we’ve been in.

“But we need to play well and start better against Wigan to give ourselves a real chance. It’s going to be a tough game – we know that, they are always tough – so we have to be good across the board.”

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Powell has options for Roberts, the Samoan who aggravated a foot injury in his first game in 10 weeks and underwent surgery after limping off against Wolves.

He could switch hooker Paul McShane there, include Ryan Hampshire, who is on a season-long loan from Wigan, utilise prop Grant Millington in the role as he has done successfully previously this season or move full-back Luke Dorn to No 6.

On Wigan, Powell added: “They are a pretty physical side; they come after you and play with a lot of confidence.

“They’ve a lot of structure in their play that everybody recognises. It’s been there for a while.

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“They’ve a few tweaks in there, but it’s been consistently a similar structure for a number of years.

“They’ve then got good players on the end of what they do and obviously have Sam Tomkins back. We need to recognise the threat he’s going to throw at us.

“George Williams is also back and he’s got a great left-foot step. Dan Sarginson at centre is another one who’s sharp on his feet off his left so we need to work hard to shut them down.”

Powell revealed his decision to replace former Australia centre Joel Monaghan during the game against Warrington was tactical.

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“I thought Joel was struggling a little defensively and we had Jake (Webster) on the bench, who has been playing outstandingly well in the centres,” he said.

“That wasn’t in the plan, but sometimes it happens with players; they don’t always play right on top of their game.

“Joel had a great game the week before, but he’d dropped off a couple of tackles that hurt us a little and I just decided to make the change. I thought Jake was pretty good when he came on.”