Castleford Tigers’ performance and victory at Wigan showed how much they had learned from the experience of losing at Salford, according to head coach Daryl Powell.
The Tigers boss praised his players for the way they handled periods of pressure at the DW Stadium and came up with scores at crucial times to make it seven wins from eight in the Betfred Super League.
He said: “It was another learning process for the team, which was great.
“I think there’s a growing maturity in the team. We’re getting better all the time and there’s a development there every time we play.
“We got rattled a little bit at Salford, but we were fractions away from getting something out of that game.
“If you learn lessons from your defeats then it’s obviously going to help you as you go forward.
“It’s just about being able to win in different ways. Obviously it was slightly different in the balance of the game. It was heavily against us at the start so we had to find a way into the game first of all and find a way to score points when we didn’t have much field position.
“The two tries midway through the first half were awesome for us. To be to go back to back as well gave us breathing space and I just thought we were really good value for the victory.
“Wigan gave us a bit of a shake-up when they scored their second try and then put us under a lot of pressure, throwing the ball around and taking the odds to things a little bit, but overall I was really pleased with the manner of the win, having to dig out.”
Powell continued: “It was great to keep them to just two tries. We could have probably stopped both of them, but with the second there was a little bit of structural stuff we can improve. But to only concede two tries was a great effort.
“In the past under that kind of pressure we would have conceded more tries so from that perspective it rubber stamped a development within the team of being tougher defensively and it’s something we want to carry on all the way through the season.
“I think we’re the best defensive team points-wise in the competition now and that’s been a real focus for us. We’re averaging just about 14 points conceded and that’s a significant improvement on what we’ve seen in the past.”
Powell was pleased with the way his team coped with the last minute withdrawal of captain Michael Shenton, who suffered a back injury in the warm-up.
He said: “Being without Michael Shenton so late forced a bit of a reshuffle.
“Greg Minikin and Greg Eden hadn’t really played together so there was obviously going to be a bit of a readjustment for them, but they handled it okay and Greg’s played in the centres a fair bit before and he did pretty well.”
The players coming off the bench did well again for the Tigers, particularly Jesse Sene-Lefao, who helped set up one try and scored another.
Powell added: “Jesse played really well. The try he scored was a smart pick from him, getting straight through the full-back, Escare, who was in the line.
“He’s playing really well. He’s played a little bit of back row, but he’s now where he rightfully should be in the middle. He’s great in there.
“He’s a different type of player to some of the other guys and it’s that balance of players that’s helping us to be successful.
“Whilst I thought our start to the first half wasn’t great the start to the second half was.
“Jesse’s try gave us some real breathing space.
“I thought it was a smart decision to take the two and go to 14-0 and the try just after half-time was a real hammer blow to Wigan, particularly the way we were defending. We held them deep in their own 20-metre area consistently, which again was a great effort from us defensively.”