Defence is set for big test: Castleford Tigers boss

Ben Davies takes on Jay Pitts during his second debut for Castleford Tigers against Hull
Ben Davies takes on Jay Pitts during his second debut for Castleford Tigers against Hull

Castleford Tigers boss Daryl Powell has warned his players they will have to be at their best defensively this week if they are to maintain the feel good factor brought about by an exciting win over Hull.

The Tigers made it three straight home wins in beating Hull 30-28, but are still without an away victory for over a year and face a tough task to end that run when travelling to face leaders Wigan Warriors tomorrow night.

Powell is wary of a Wigan backlash after they lost to Warrington on Monday night and expects his team to be tested across the field, but they are not travelling across the Pennines without confidence that they can cause an upset.

He told the Express: “It’s a tough job at Wigan there’s no doubt about that.

“They played Monday night so there’ll be some soreness in there, but they have a deep squad and you would expect them to put out an outstanding team against us.

“We need to go there and be confident in what we can do, but we’re certainly going to need to defend well.

“They throw a hell of a lot at you and put you under pressure so there’s going to be some real challenges for us.

“They’re an excellent team. Obviously they lost at Warrington, but that will just give them more determination for the game against us.

“I know a fair bit about Wigan. They are a very difficult side to play against because they work exceptionally hard for each other and they’re a tough group of people.

“At the end of the day we’ve got to focus on ourselves, look at what we can do, go and play as well as we can and see what happens. At home there wasn’t that much between the teams so a lot of the players who played in that game will get some confidence from that.”

Powell is not looking to make many changes from the team that beat Hull with Richard Owen and James Clare likely to keep their places on the wings after scoring and impressing last week.

Scrum-half Jamie Ellis was left out and faces a fight to get his place back while Cas will still be without injured duo Lee Gilmour and Jake Webster and are likely to be missing new signing Ben Davies, who pulled his hamstring on his second debut for the club.

Powell explained: “Obviously I’ll be looking at the boys through the week to make sure everybody’s okay, but I don’t think there will be many changes to what was out there last week.

“Justin Carney’s got another week of suspension so we’ll be without him. But I thought James Clare and Richard Owen were both excellent on the wings against Hull.

“James obviously scored a length of the field try, dealt with things pretty well and made a saving tackle at the end while Richard Owen scored an excellent try, generally played well and showed a fair bit of enthusiasm. He’s been challenged a little bit over the last few weeks and I thought it was a great response from him.

“Keith Mason and Lee Gilmour have both been injured and haven’t been available for selection, but Keith will come back in contention this week.

“Jamie Ellis was left out because I just felt we needed to improve our defence. Leeds went after him pretty heavy and I don’t think he handled it too well. It’s just the nature of the job, if you don’t get the job done and there’s things you need to work on there’s a chance of somebody taking your place in the team.

“At the moment he’s got a few things he needs to work on and he’s going to need to knuckle down and work hard on certain elements of his game.

“Ben Davies was a little bit ring rusty. He hadn’t played for a while at this level so it took him a little bit of time to get into it and then he pulled his hamstring. But there were some promising touches in there. I don’t think he’ll play this week with his hamstring problem, but will continue working with us and look to get a little bit of match fitness.”