Daryl Powell has urged Castleford’s fans to lower their expectations after his team produced a nervy display in their 13-12 victory over Widnes.
Last season’s runners-up got their Betfred Super League season up and running after suffering a heavy defeat at St Helens in round one but they were well short of their best against the spirited Vikings.
After winning the League Leaders’ Shield at a canter and racking up almost 1,000 points in 2017, Powell believes the two-week break for the World Club Challenge will give his team the chance to relax.
“We needed to win and in some ways that’s why we looked nervous at times,” he said.
“I’m really pleased with the two points and I’m not a big fan of the World Club Challenge stopping the season by a week but at the moment it’ll give us a bit of breathing space.
“I’m looking forward to this next two weeks. We need to chill out and relax a bit. It’ll come for us.
“We trained with a great attitude all week. Obviously it’s been a tough week for us because we’re not used to the standard that we put out there last week.
“The whole place is a bit nervous about us and that doesn’t help either. I’m not blaming anyone for that.
“But I think everybody expects us to be on this journey of winning every week and this is a different journey, a different season.
“We’re going to have to find something else and today we did. We’re not all singing, all dancing – the conditions are tough. We’re still trying to find our fluency.
“We’ve just got to chill out with that. It’s not going to be like it was last year.
“We just need to relax a little bit and I’d like to think our speccies (fans) will relax a little bit and give us a little bit of time in the knowledge that we’re working our backsides off to be as good as we can be.”
The Tigers dominated the opening 40 minutes but were frustrated by strong Widnes defence until Greg Minikin finished the last play of the half.
Matt Whitley’s converted try nudged the visitors ahead only for Jy Hitchcox to cross to swing the game back Castleford’s way.
Luke Gale booted five points to put the Tigers two scores in front but they were clinging on in the dying minutes after Jay Chapelhow had given the Vikings hope of back-to-back victories.
Jake Webster came closest to breaking the deadlock in a frustrating start for Castleford when he knocked on.
Widnes threatened when Whitley had a try ruled out for a forward pass by Tom Gilmore.
Stefan Marsh denied Ben Roberts with a one-on-one tackle and Mike McMeeken had an effort chalked off for obstruction.
Castleford eventually broke through when Minikin held off a couple of defenders to touch down in the corner.
Yet it was Widnes who came out firing after the restart and almost levelled the scores when Chris Dean was held up.
The visitors did not have to wait much longer for their try, though, as Whitley collected Gilmore’s lovely reverse kick and touched down in front of the travelling supporters.
Gilmore added the extras to nudge the Vikings in front and teenager Danny Walker, their only recognised hooker, ensured they remained on top with an explosive dummy-half run.
The Tigers were back ahead when Hitchcox strolled in out wide from Michael Shenton’s pass.
Gale landed a difficult conversion and then added another two points from a penalty for interference before knocking over a drop goal to give Castleford a 13-6 lead.
The Tigers appeared to have the points in the bag but Widnes won the ball back from the restart and Chapelhow crashed over next to the posts to set up a grandstand finish.
Castleford: Roberts, Minikin, Webster, Shenton, Hitchcox, Ellis, Gale, Millington, McShane, Foster, Holmes, McMeeken, Milner. Substitutes: Moors, Massey, Sene-Lefao, Cook.
Widnes: Hanbury, Ashall, Runciman, Inu, Marsh, Mellor, Gilmore, J. Chapelhow, D. Walker, Burke, Dean, Whitley, Houston. Substitutes: Wilde, W. Albert, Cahill, Olbison.