After seeing his team step up a level to beat Salford in the cup, Daryl Powell wants more of the same as his Castleford Tigers team aim for a rare hat-trick of Headingley successes against Leeds Rhinos tonight.
The Tigers won twice on the ground last year and also beat the Rhinos at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle at Easter – and can open a seven-point gap on the reigning champions if they can enjoy another success.
Cas go into the game having lost their last three Super League games, but the 32-18 cup success against Salford last Saturday showed what they are capable of even with seven key first team players missing.
“It’s been a tough month,” said Powell. “The boys have worked pretty hard, but didn’t get much reward until last week. It was an excellent effort.
“There has been a fair bit of adversity with us this year and it’s been difficult at times, but the team that went out there last week I thought attitude wise was exceptional and with the team we had out we did some smart things with the ball.
“There’s some positive signs from us and we’d like to reaffirm that at Leeds. We are after some consistency.”
Powell is expecting a tough test from a Leeds side desperate to turn their form round after finding themselves bottom of the table and out of the Challenge Cup.
He said: “There’s been a lot said this week, Gary Hetherington has sent a letter out to the fans and they are trying to rally the team.
“It’s tough what’s happened to them, they are talking about different things like their training ground, injuries, losing key players at the end of last season. But they’ve got a pretty good team that can really challenge you.
“A couple of games ago they weren’t too far away from beating St Helens. They were really sharp that night. They’ve since had a couple of tough battles against Huddersfield.
“It is what it is for them as well as us, injuries have made life difficult for them so far.
“But this is a game that is crucial to us. It’s important we focus on ourselves and we go and play well.
“We’ve enjoyed going to Headingley recently, the last couple of years we’ve been really good there so we will go and try to do the same.
“I don’t think it matters whether It’s a good time or bad time to play them, it’s about where we’re at now, what we need to do to get ourselves in a place to win the game.
“It’s a short turnaround for both teams, more so for us, but we’ve just got to go there and perform. We’re saying at the moment it’s a game at a time and it will only be good for us if we go and play well. You can’t turn up for any game in Super League now and be off your game – we found that out a couple of times this year, you get your backside spanked.”
Cas hope to have captain Luke Gale back after he missed the Salford game, although he faces a late fitness test, as does Grant Millington. But Luke Dorn is expected to return at full-back and Nathan Massey has been included in the 19-man squad despite dislocating his knee against Salford.