CASTLEFORD Tigers can heap more pressure on Hull FC coach Richard Agar when they head east looking for their first away win of the season at the KC Stadium this evening.
While the Tigers have won all four of their 2011 home games in Super League and were also successful at Millennium Magic they suffered a reverse at Bradford in their only actual away fixture so far and head coach Terry Matterson wants to put that right against a Hull side that had been misfiring before a big win at Harlequins last Sunday.
He told the Express: “We’re really excited about the next game at Hull. They had a good win last weekend and it should be a good test.
“It’s always a good place to go to play. It’s a great atmosphere with their fans and will be a big crowd. Our fans always like travelling there.
“We came up a little bit short in our last away game and we want to learn our lessons from that one and go up there and get a good win.
“Hull are under a lot of pressure, but if you look at the players in their team they are a very good side. They were unlucky to get beat by Wigan, against Wakefield they could have been 20 up after the first 20 minutes. If they had taken a few of those chances it would have been a different ball game.
“It’s real challenge for us, but we’re looking forward to it.”
A short turn round of only five days between games makes it more difficult to prepare, but Matterson does not see that as a problem on this occasion, especially after the ease of the win against Crusaders.
He said: “Hull have had to do the same and both sides are in the same position after playing last Sunday.
“Our guys look good and the Crusaders game wasn’t as physical as the previous two that did wear on us a little bit.
“We were really pleased with the way Sunday’s game went and delighted to score some really good tries and put on a bit of a show for the crowd.
“It’s good to be able to do that. We’ve been involved in a few arm wrestles over the past few weeks so it was good to go out there and get a game in like that one. The boys really enjoyed it.
“I was a bit disappointed by conceding three late tries, especially two of them. We just need to stay switched on the full 80 minutes, but all in all we’re pretty pleased with it all.
“Our forwards laid a platform and then our halves laid on some really good tries with our outside backs finishing them off well.
“I think the highlight was the way we took our opportunities. The previous couple of weeks we haven’t been quite so clinical.”
Matterson was impressed with the way a number of his players took the chance to shine in front of their home fans.
He added: “Willie Isa’s getting more confident, it was good to get Brett Ferres back into the second row and all our front rowers did a wonderful job.
“Daryl Clark keeps doing what he’s doing really well and our back three were solid.
“It was difficult to pick the three, two and one. Because the halves touch the ball a lot their names are always in the mix, but Richard Mathers, Kirk Dixon and Nick Youngquest did well and I thought Jake Emmitt was great.
“It’s hard to single just a few out and that’s how it should be. It’s a real team effort at the moment and everyone’s contributing.
“I’m really happy for Kirk Dixon. He’s copped a bit of flak in the past for his goal kicking, but he’s a really good goal kicker and he keeps working hard on it.
“I think he took his two tries really well. He had a bit of work to do on both of them and he was unlucky not to get a third when he did well to get close.
“Some of the credit should go to Joe Arundel on his inside. He’s getting better with his passing and is improving all the time. Richie Mathers laid on a nice ball as well and it was good to see those combinations we’ve been working hard on in training coming up with tries.
“Nick Youngquest has been really good for us all year and I was really pleased for him on the weekend against his old club. He’s probably been in the middle a little bit too much, but he got the mix right and was available on the wing when we went down his side.
“He scored and laid on a couple and it’s great when your wingers are making such a big contribution.
“I thought we were a bit scratchy at the start, our first two defensive sets weren’t great and they came the length of the field, but when we got a foothold in the game we controlled the ball well – we completed 42 out of 47 sets, close to 90 per cent – and when we do that we are very hard to beat because we are playing at the right end of the field.
“I thought our kicking game was as good as it has been and there were a lot of the little things in our game right, which made things easier.
“I was pleased with the discipline as well. Crusaders did some things that justified the referee’s reactions and Nick Youngquest ran in, so I can understand why he got ten minutes, but I thought our guys stood up for their team-mates but they didn’t go overboard with it.
“We’re a strong side and we can mix it with the other teams as well.”
Matterson thought long and hard about his team selection for tonight’s game before opting to go with the same 19-man squad that did the job last Sunday.
The Castleford Tigers boss admits he had considered rotating his squad with the bigger picture in mind and may still make changes to the starting line-up, but there is no return to the initial squad for fit-again Steve Snitch against his home town club or for youngster Oliver Holmes, who started in the first five Super League games.
Matterson said: “We’ve come through last week’s game really healthy and we had three or four more players in the mix to get a game this week so it’s a matter of weighing it up.
“We rested Oliver Holmes last week after he’d done a good job for us in the first games this season and he’s raring to go again.
“We’ve got Ryan Hudson ready to play and Steve Snitch is recovered from his virus. He’s put the weight back on and pretty keen to play. He’s found himself out of the team, but he’s handled it well and it’s a case of staying patient. Willie Isa’s had to wait, but is now in the side.”
Captain Danny Orr and forward Brett Ferres picked up knocks against Crusaders, but both are expected to be fit to start at Hull.
Matterson added: “Danny’s going to be okay. He wasn’t 100 per cent last Sunday and it was just precautionary to take him off in the second half.
“It was great to have the opportunity to take him off, obviously to rest him with the short turn around against Hull, and also to see how we could handle life without Danny. We’re going to have to do that from time to time and we didn’t handle that well against Bradford, but I thought Dean Widders did a fair job for us in there.
“Brett Ferres is also fine. He copped a knock on his shoulder, but he’s training this week and there’s no problems.”
The 19-man squad for the Hull game is:
Richard Mathers, Kirk Dixon, Nick Youngquest, Joe Arundel, Richard Owen, Rangi Chase, Danny Orr, Paul Jackson, Ryan Hudson, Craig Huby, Jake Emmitt, Brett Ferres, Stuart Jones, Adam Milner, Willie Isa, Nick Fozzard, Martin As