Top of the table is at stake when Castleford Tigers play their first derby game of the season against Leeds Rhinos at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle tonight.
A red hot atmosphere and a possible full house is expected to greet the teams as they walk out for a clash that will see the winners sit at the head of affairs in the Betfred Super League.
After impressive wins in their first two games the Tigers currently hold top spot, but Leeds have won two of their first three matches and although they have not hit the heights of performance as their hosts they will provide a stiff test of Castleford’s title credentials according to head coach Daryl Powell.
He told the Express: “Leeds have won two out of three, they have defended very well and have not conceded a lot of points.
“They are basing a lot of what they’re really doing on a real tough defensive mindset and they have got good players everywhere.
“You know they are a threat. There’s always a big game in Leeds where they can get the ball to their speedy and athletic players and they are a handful.”
Castleford picked up more plaudits for their exciting brand of play as they beat Warrington Wolves last week and Powell admitted that in preparing for the Leeds game it was important for the players to guard against over confidence.
He said: “It’s important for us not to get too carried away. We are getting so many pats on the back at the moment – and I think they are warranted – but you can’t get dragged down by that.
“It’s important that you’re focused and if you turn up with a sloppy attitude then Leeds will certainly do a job on you.
“We’ve just got to make sure that our game’s good, that everybody’s focused and we do what we need to do. We lay the foundations then play well.
“If we play well then we’re confident there’s no doubt about that. I don’t want us to be over-confident, that’s really important I think with us at the moment.”
Castleford have Paul McShane back at hooker after he missed the Warrington game through suspension, but will be without two of their half-backs with Ben Roberts picking up a groin injury in training last week and Rangi Chase dropped this week after the club launched an internal investigation.
They are not saying what Chase is alleged to have done or what the length of the club ban is with chief executive Steve Gill saying: “Rangi was part of an investigation that has been dealt with internally by the club.
“Neither Rangi Chase nor the Castleford Tigers will make any further comment on this issue.”
On Roberts, head coach Powell explained: “It looked a bit innocuous, but he felt a pop and that’s never a good sign. We’ll see how long he’s going to be, hopefully not too long before he’s back.
“We’ve just got to help Benny be a bit more durable. He hasn’t had a great pre-season and it takes a bit of time at times to create that durability in your body. He’s a fast twitch athlete and hopefully he will able to get a run of games when he gets back.
“All the boys from last week are okay. Junior Moors got a little bit of a knock and we’ll be checking on him through the week, but he should be okay.”