Castleford Tigers boss Daryl Powell has hailed his team’s achievement to go a calendar year unbeaten at home and to finish 10 points clear at the top of the Betfred Super League at the end of the regular season.
Classy Cas are well on track to win the league for the first time in the club’s history and go into the Super 8s needing just five points from seven games to collect the League Leaders’ Shield.
Head coach Powell is not taking anything for granted yet with all of the top teams still to play, but after winning 20 out of their 23 league matches he agrees the Tigers are deservedly taking all the plaudits for an outstanding job done so far.
He told the Express: “I think it’s an awesome achievement.
“Obviously what we’re after is something the club’s never done before, finishing top of the table, and we’ve given ourselves a great chance.
“There’s some water to go under the bridge yet and we want to maintain our standards and our ability to win games consistently, but we are in a fantastic position at the moment and we’ve deserved it.
“We’ve worked so hard across the year to give ourselves a chance the last thing we want to do now is sit back and allow teams to come after us. We keep talking about maintaining our standards and that’s probably the most difficult thing for us now.”
Powell continued: “We’ve beaten every team now.
“We had a couple of nuts to crack. We beat Hull in a tough game and then we’ve been good enough to beat Salford so we’ve managed to get points against everybody.
“I don’t think anybody holds any fears for us. It’s about us playing well and having a bit of luck, keeping people fit.”
Castleford have remained unbeaten at home so far, which is in big contrast to last year when they lost seven of their 11 games in the regular season and the improvement is not lost on Powell who set out to make the Mend-A-Hose Jungle a fortress in 2017.
He added: “I think we were really unlucky injury wise last year.
“We’ve had some injuries this year – if you look at us now a lot of our middle players are missing and we’ve got two different wingers playing to the ones that have played consistently. But people are doing their jobs consistently, whoever comes in.
“Our defence has been a big change obviously. We’ve been a couple of tries per game off what we were conceding last year so that’s given us a better chance to win games.
“We’re scoring points and we’ve conceded the fewest in Super League so there’s been a lot of improvements in us.
“I’d say defensively has been the biggest improvement, but we’ve certainly played well with the ball and we’ve challenged teams every time we’ve come up against them.
“You’d imagine if you are coaching against us you are working exceptionally hard to stop us doing what we’re doing.”