Castleford Tigers boss Daryl Powell is keen to end the biggest hoodoo in Super League as looks for his side to overhaul Catalans Dragons for a fifth place finish.
With the top four out of reach now, Powell wants the next best thing and believes the Tigers are capable of finishing above Catalans, who are currently only one point above them in fifth spot with three games remaining and the two teams still to meet in France.
First, though, comes a visit to St Helens’ Langtree Park tonight and Cas go there still looking for a first win at the ground and a first-ever away win over Saints in the Super League.
Powell is well aware of his side’s awful record away to St Helens and although he takes a weakened squad over the Pennines with 13 first teamers unavailable he is relishing the chance to finally break the Tigers’ bad run.
He said: “Saints have really stepped up. We looked at them and thought there was a chance of us reeling them in, but we’ve not been able to do that because while we’ve been winning they’ve been replicating the same sort of form line.
“We needed to beat Warrington really when they got us right at the death. That would have closed it to five points – still very difficult – but they have been good.
“It’d be awesome for us to go there and get a result and give us the opportunity of reeling Catalans in, which is a real focus for us now.”
Powell believes a fifth place finish would be a great achievement given the injuries.
He said: “I think it’d be incredible. We’ve been rattled pretty much all year and it’s been tough, but I think there’s been a lot of positives to come out of it – the emergence of young players and growth of depth of our squad, young players getting games due to our injuries, and whilst it’s been tough we’ve battled our way to a really strong position, I think.
“Obviously we can’t get fourth now mathematically, but we can have a pop at Catalans. It’s do-able. If we can do it I think it’d be some achievement from the boys.”
Castleford’s hopes have been hit by further injuries with props Gadwin Springer and Grant Millington ruled out of the Saints game and player numbers were so small that Powell cancelled training on Monday.
He added: “We’re struggling for numbers in a big way.
“We’ve lost Jewitt and Mariano for the season and we cancelled training and put it back a day hopeful that we could get a couple who can train then.
“It has been tough. It’s just down to numbers. We were down to five in the pack, but one of those can’t play (Savelio) so we could nearly play if we put Jake Webster in the middle. But Luke Gale wouldn’t have trained so it was just pointless running the session.
“We’re scared of doing any contact in case we get any more injuries!”