Castleford Tigers may have surrendered their unbeaten pre-season record when the final warm-up did not quite go according to plan at a muddy Dewsbury Rams ground, but head coach Daryl Powell considered it a worthwhile exercise.
After piling up more than 60 points in each of their previous two outings the Tigers – fielding a mix and match side of first teamers testing their fitness, fringe players and untried youngsters – surprisingly failed to register a single point in an 18-0 defeat to Championship opposition.
The heavy pitch did not help, but the hosts managed to score two tries in the first half and one after the break. To compound the Tigers’ disappointment, they lost forward Nathan Massey to a groin injury in the first five minutes.
Castleford boss Daryl Powell admitted it was disappointing to lose, but said it was more about giving his players a run out that would stand them in good stead for weeks and months to come.
He said: “It was a tough game to play in. Dewsbury are a pretty big and physical team and they played well.
“They put us under a fair bit of pressure with their physicality and it was difficult for our pack as we lost Nathan Massey early on and that left us with quite a few of our younger guys out there. But I thought they did really well.
“We were obviously disappointed not to score and to lose a game, but in terms of getting our players coming back from injury some game time then it was a good exercise.
“The pitch was in a hell of a state and it was a real tough game to play in with the conditions, but some of our players needed extra game time and from that point of view it served a real purpose.
“The Championship’s a tough comp and the teams really challenge you physically. I thought some of our younger boys will have got a massive amount out of it.
“There were quite a few players who put their hands up. Dan Fleming had an outstanding second stint and was really strong. I thought Michael Channing was very good and Richard Owen was strong on the wing. Frankie Mariano was also pretty good.
“Some of the younger players were great and it will have been a big experience for them to get under their belt.”