DARYL Powell knows his Castleford Tigers side must negate a raft of his former Leeds Rhinos colleagues tomorrow if they are to achieve the win that will keep alive hopes of a ninth-placed finish.
Although Castleford, currently 12th, cannot make the play-offs, they have targeted a final flourish of four successive victories to give them momentum heading into pre-season and 2014.
They started with a typically fraught 42-38 triumph at Widnes last Sunday and with Bradford Bulls arriving tomorrow, then lowly Salford City Reds before a last-day trip to derby rivals Wakefield Trinity, their bold aim is achievable. Bradford must win themselves, though, to maintain their chances of snatching eighth spot from Hull KR.
“Franny Cummins is someone I know pretty well from my time at Leeds,” said Powell, a 1999 Challenge Cup winning team-mate before coaching the ex-Great Britain winger at Headingley.
“He’s done a pretty good job at Bradford and stabilised them after their really difficult time last season, going into administration. They’ve a lot of good players and are pretty big up front with people like (Nick) Scruton who I know from my time at Leeds as well.
“They are pretty smart at half-back and (ex-Rhinos Academy player) Luke Gale has a kicking game that will threaten you all day, while Brett Kearney at the back chases them.
“We recognise we’ll have to play well to beat them as they’re above us in the table and they’ve a mathematical chance of getting in the eight.
“But we still think we can catch them, they’re one of the teams we want to chip away at and it’s a crucial game for us too.
“I hate losing at tiddlywinks so we won’t be going in with any other attitude than winning it.”
To do that, Castleford are fully-aware of the need to remedy their regular defensive problems.
While they have no issues scoring points, they have shipped an average of more than 40 points in each of the last four games.
“It is slow progress,” admitted Powell, who has named an unchanged 19. “It is a constant thorn in our side. We’re always talking about it but need to start delivering in terms of keeping scorelines down.
“It’s tough at this time of year when grounds are firm and you’re playing some pretty smart teams.”