Castleford Tigers boss Daryl Powell has identified tonight’s First Utility Super League clash with Wigan Warriors as crucial in his team’s bid for a top four finish.
The Tigers are going for a fourth successive win and can close the gap to three points behind fourth-placed Wigan with another success at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle.
Magic Weekend results gave encouragement to Cas with only two of the top five winning and they are now within five points of second-placed Warrington Wolves after beating them 34-14 at Newcastle.
Head coach Powell wants his team to maintain their momentum tonight against another top four side in Wigan.
He said: “We’ve had some reasonable success against Wigan and we’d like to think we can go on with this game.
“It’s a crucial game for us in particular. You look at where they are. This would close the gap to three points and it gives us a little bit of an edge towards the top four and hanging around there, which is what we are trying to aim for.
“We need to play well and need to start better to give ourselves a real chance.
“It’s going to be a tough game, we know that, so we have to be good across the board.
“But there’s a real confidence. A couple of players have come back and they’ve done really well.
“The team is functioning well and we adapted very well to losing Benny Roberts like we did last weekend. The previous four, five weeks in terms of how we’ve adjusted our squad really helped us with that.”
Cas are looking for revenge after losing 26-12 at Wigan last month when both sides had key players missing.
“It was a tight game over there,” said Powell.
“They ended up being just a little bit too good for us, but there was not an awful lot in it.
“We defended pretty well, but they were just a bit too good on the night. Hopefully we can flip it.”
Powell is expecting another tough game for his players, especially with Wigan getting some key personnel back.
He said: “They are always tough. They are a pretty physical side, they come after you and play with confidence.
“They’ve got a lot of structure in their play that everybody recognises. It’s been there for a while now. They have got a few tweaks in there, but it’s been consistently a similar structure for a number of years.
“They’ve got good players on the end of what they do and obviously they have got Sam Tomkins back. We need to recognise the threat he’s going to throw at us.
“George Williams is also back and he’s good on his feet with a great left foot step. Sarginson at centre is another one who’s sharp on his feet off his left so we need to work hard to shut them down.”
Powell is hoping supporters can play their part by turning up in numbers and shouting the Tigers on.
He added: “Our support is great and you could see it at the Magic Weekend, to take the whole end there. The atmosphere was awesome.
“We’d like a real strong following this week and if we can fill the ground it will be massive for us.
“It’s one of those games that should be filling the ground really. It’s Wigan at home, Yorkshire against Lancashire, all those rivalries. Hopefully we get a real strong crowd and it’s buzzing down here.”