Castleford Tigers boss Daryl Powell has heaped praise on his players after their impressive start to the new Betfred Super League season.
After a draw and a defeat in their opening games in the last two years – against teams that would go on to struggle – it was a complete contrast as the Tigers blew away newly promoted Leigh Centurions.
Powell was delighted with the way the players handled the opening day pressure and lived up to the expectations being put on them.
He said: “There were some areas we need to tighten up, but I thought the boys were awesome.
“Overall I was very pleased and it was an excellent effort for round one.
“Some of the attacking play was really clinical. I thought we defended really tough. We carried the ball really hard and our middle unit did a great job. We scored some smart tries.
“Some of our defensive efforts were great – it’s been a big focus of ours. We let in a couple of soft tries towards the back end when we had the game won, but for large parts we dominated defensively and it was a big improvement. That’s something we want to continue to develop.
“Although there were bits to work on it was really pleasing to get off to a win in round one – it’s the first time we’ve done that in three years.”
Before they took control Castleford had to withstand early pressure from a pumped up Leigh team and Powell was pleased with the way his side fought fire with fire.
He continued: “We knew we would have to ride some tough stuff with them having Gareth Hock and Harrison Hansen and people like that in there. They have a physical forward pack.
“But we rode the tough early period and our attacking plays started to cause them trouble.
“I thought our middle unit were excellent in yardage and did a great job giving our half-backs kicking opportunities in good field positions.
“They came and rattled us a little bit and we were in a bit of a tussle at the start, but we had a period where we were really good, in the 15 minutes up to half-time.
“After half-time we probably put the game to bed, probably the worst thing for us, pretty much straight away. We had 32 points on the board and the game was pretty much done.
“We got loose after that and we weren’t at our best for periods of the second half. But I would have taken that result at the start. It was a dangerous game and we did really well for the large part.”
Powell was happy with the contribution of the three players who made their competitive debut for the Tigers with two of them, Jesse Sene-Lefao and Greg Eden, scoring a try.
He added: “I thought all the new boys did well.
“Zak Hardaker did some smart things, he’s a high quality player and he’s going to keep learning how we play and fitting into the structures.
“Jesse went well and Greg looked pretty sharp, he was unlucky not to get a second try.
“Everybody did their job. We work hard as a group and I’ve always said we’re greater than the sum of our parts.”