CASTLEFORD Tigers are looking for a capital gain tonight as they aim to maintain the feel-good factor sweeping the club along so far this season.
Top of the Super League with a game in hand, home attendances up and planning permission granted for the new stadium – these are heady days for the Tigers as they head to London on a real high to play Harlequins.
With seven wins from eight games in 2011 and on the back of an impressive nine-try show against a Salford side predicted by many at the start of the season to finish above them, Terry Matterson’s men will start favourites to add to their successes, but will give their hosts full respect, according to the head coach.
Matterson told the Express: “It couldn’t have been a better week on and off the field.
“Things are going really well at the moment, but what’s important is that we continue to work hard.
“It’s important we keep our feet on the ground and we’re feeling the benefits of that with where we are and in the performances and results so far.
“You can’t afford to just turn up and expect things to happen. But there’s a pretty good mentality in the team at the moment and there’s obviously competition for positions.
“We can’t take things for granted and we are now playing against a team that has fallen in a bit of a hole, but who you can expect a bit of a reaction from after they had 50 points put on them by Wakefield.
“We can expect a tough game. We went down there last year and had a tough one so we can expect a challenge.
“Harlequins will be smarting. They’ve got a lot of good players and have built a really good culture. They had some good performances at the start of the season, but they’ll be disappointed with the last few weeks so you would expect a reaction from them.
“It’s something we’ve been getting used to. We played Salford on the back of a poor performance from them and Hull FC hadn’t been in great form as well. We’re playing teams that have got plenty to play for and it’s been a credit to us that we haven’t let them bounce back against us.”
Matterson was delighted with his players against Salford as they made a potentially tricky game look easy at times with some high class attacking play orchestrated by Rangi Chase at his best at stand-off.
He said: “It was a real team effort and we were great with the ball. We were all right in defence as well, but there were just a couple of lapses to let them back into the game after we started so well.
“I was disappointed with the last try as well, but all in all it was a dominant performance. I thought our reaction was really good at 10-6 to come back the way we did.
“With the sun out and the ground getting harder the skill level was good. We’ve worked hard on it, the passing was crisp and the running was strong. We did a lot of things well.
“We came out a little bit soft at the start of the second half and we let a try in at the end. But in between that there was really only one team in the game.”
Matterson heaped praise on a number of his in-form players.
He added: “I know Rangi got a lot of the accolades, but I thought there were some really good performances right across the board from one to 17 and everyone contributed.
“Rangi showed the whole lot. He’s playing as well as I‘ve seen him, his kicking game and running were really good. Everyone sees the big plays he puts on, but I was really pleased with his control. His defence is improving as well.
“He’s playing off the back of a very good go forward from his pack and he’s getting a lot of help from his other half-back and the back three, who have been great all season, whoever’s playing on the wings.
“I thought Kirk Dixon did a really good job for us in the centres. He hasn’t really played there for a long time, but he’s given me a nice problem when Willie Isa comes back.
“He’s been good for us all season and his goalkicking continues to be outstanding. It makes a big difference when you are getting six points all the time from tries.
“Craig Huby had a strong running game. He probably wasn’t right on his game defensively, but carrying the ball he’s as good as any front rower in the game and the opposition finds him hard to handle.
“His maturity with the ball has certainly improved. He’s not looking to offload all the time, he’s finding his front and he’s going great at the moment.
“All the props are complimenting each other. Jake Emmitt and Jacko are doing a great job and Nick Fozzard’s impact was really good on Sunday.
“I’ve been really pleased with Ryan Hudson as well. He didn’t do a lot wrong to be left out, it was because another guy got an opportunity and took it, but he’s come back well and his reaction’s been great.
“Steve Snitch is another one who hasn’t done a lot wrong and hasn’t got a run, but he is going to play this Friday night and I’m looking for a reaction the same as Raz has done.”