Castleford Tigers boss Daryl Powell has praised his players’ efforts in sealing a top four place for the Super 8s.
The Tigers are now guaranteed an extra home game in the Super 8s and the head coach stressed how important that could be as they look to return to the Grand Final for a second year running.
“It’s crucial to have that extra home game in the Super 8s,” Powell told the Express.
“We’re pretty happy with the way we’re going at the moment. We’ve started to play better at home and I think it’s an important place to finish in the top four to have that extra home game.
“It gives you a real good chance if you get your home form right to have a great foundation moving forward.
“It’s been a massive effort getting to where we have so far as we’ve had to play without a lot of top line players.
“We’ve really struggled at full-back, having to put a lot of players in there, and having two half-backs that have been missing for pretty much the whole of the season then it’s been a really positive effort from everybody to get us into the position where we are at the moment.
“We are in a great position to be able to have a shot at getting into the Grand Final again.
“There’s still a great deal of water to go under the bridge, but there’s a hunger and a desire within the group that we want to take that next step and we have put ourselves in a good position to have a shot at that.”
Powell was pleased with the resilience shown by his side in their 24-6 win at Salford last week.
He said: “It was a tough game. We didn’t play well first half, made a lot of errors and they were really good, really aggressive and they had a lot of ball.
“We couldn’t really get ourselves going. It was pretty greasy with the rain that had come down before the game.
“We did well in the second half. We had a good chat at half-time, refocused and flipped the game really.
“We started to control the ball, they were making errors and our defensive work was better, a lot more accurate and we were getting off the line and putting them under pressure.
“We scored a couple of tries in quick succession, which got the job done for us. I thought second half there was a big difference.
“We were never at our best, but we needed to win the game and it was difficult for us as we had three half-backs missing with Jamie Ellis, Luke Gale and Ben Roberts out,
“We had to move Q up to half again. It’s something we can do, but it’s not helping our combinations grow.”
Powell added: “It’s a good win for us. We usually struggle at Salford and haven’t played that well there since they had their new stadium built.
“It keeps us chipping away and with the result last week going our way it puts us in a strong position.”