After back to back defeats and disappointing performances Saturday’s Super League showdown with Salford Red Devils has become a key game for Castleford Tigers according to head coach Daryl Powell.
The Tigers face the prospect of falling out of the top four for the first time this year unless they can quickly reverse the sudden loss of form that saw them well beaten at St Helens and Wigan Warriors in the last two weeks.
Cas boss Powell believes his team need to get their focus back again if they are to emerge victorious from what he described as a crucial game against a Salford side set to include their expensive signing from Cas, Rangi Chase.
He told the Express: “We need to react to what has happened to us over the last two weeks.
“We’re looking to be more honest in what we’re doing. I thought we lacked a little bit of that last week.
“We’ve got a little bit comfortable with ourselves. As much as I’ve been talking about maintaining our focus it’s slipped a little bit and we’ve got to get that back.
”It’s a crucial game for us. We are wanting to maintain our position and we need to play well.
“We’re at home against a team that’s beaten us this year. We need to perform and we need to be getting a result this week. It’s important we respond in the right manner.”
Powell acknowledged that Tigers fans had earmarked this game as a big one all year with the atmosphere likely to resemble a local derby.
He said: “Salford have talked themselves up a fair bit and spent a fair bit of money. Nobody knows how much, but it’s a fair bit.
“We’re playing against a player who was at our club for a number of years and obviously left us last year so there’s a little bit of feeling and emotion attached to the game from a lot of the fans, just based on about the way their club goes about its business.
“Some of it is un-Rugby League like you might say.”
Castleford need not look far for the biggest threat on the Salford side with Chase set for his first return to the Mend-A-Hose Jungle since leaving.
He can expect a hot reception on and off the field, but Powell warned that he was not the only good player in the Red Devils’ ranks.
He added: “Iestyn Harris has brought the Wigan style to Salford’s play.
“They are very hard to defend against. You know what they are going to do, but stopping it is quite difficult. Rangi is a part of that obviously and they are going to throw some threats at us.
“We’ve got to look after what Rangi’s good at. But they’ve got good players all over the field so it’s going to be a challenge. But we’ve shown we can defend against the better teams in the competition when we are on our game so we need to make sure we are on our game for a pretty large portion of the game on Saturday.
“We’re also looking to improve on our performance in the game at Salford earlier in the season. There’s only been a couple of times this year that we’ve made a high proportion of errors and that game is one of them. We need to make sure we make better decisions when we’ve got the ball and look after possession better when we go into contact.
“Salford look like they are improving and playing with more togetherness.
“They had a fair go at Warrington last week and just came up short so they will be dangerous I think.“