Castleford boss pleased with preparations for ‘must-win’ game

Ashley Gibson is tackled in Castleford's last meeting with Huddersfield Giants. The Tigers winger has recovered from the neck injury he picked up against Catalans and is in line to play tonight.
Ashley Gibson is tackled in Castleford's last meeting with Huddersfield Giants. The Tigers winger has recovered from the neck injury he picked up against Catalans and is in line to play tonight.

After the big setback in France Castleford Tigers boss Daryl Powell is looking for a reaction from his players and believes he has seen it out on the training field this week.

Powell is pleased with the way the players have been preparing for one of their most important games of the season tonight when the Tigers take on Huddersfield Giants at the John Smith’s Stadium in a game he has described as “must-win”.

The club suspension of Justin Carney while an investigation takes place has overshadowed the pre-match build-up, but the players have got on with their business according to the head coach and are fully focused on what could be a make or break game in their bid for a top four play-off spot.

“We’ve been training really well. The boys have responded well since Catalans and they’ve been excellent,” Powell told the Express.

“Hopefully everybody is refreshed and ready.

“We need a massive effort from everybody, one to 17. The boys who take the field need to deliver an excellent performance this week.

“We really need to work hard to improve on what we did last time out against Catalans and we’re pretty pleased with the response from the players from a training point of view.

“Clearly the performance against Catalans wasn’t great. There were a couple of different factors in there, obviously the travel element was tough and the injuries we picked up.

“We didn’t perform, but it’s gone now. We’ve just put that one behind us and moved on. This is obviously a huge game coming up when clearly we need to respond in a better way than we did against Catalans – and I’m pretty confident we’ll get that response.”

Powell admits the Huddersfield game is massive for Castleford’s prospects for this season.

He said: “It is a key game for us. Obviously they are just above us in the comp and they’ve been going really well.

“The significance of the game in terms of being in the top at the end of the season is pretty big.

“The next two are crucial to keep us in with a shout.

“We’re two points adrift at the moment, but this game could level it up again so it’s a must-win game really and Huddersfield will see it exactly the same.”

Castleford felt aggrieved the last time they played Huddersfield when they narrowly lost after several controversial refereeing decisions went against them, but Powell has been impressed with the Giants this season.

He added: “They have been mean all year defensively, their scramble and work ethic’s been great.

“We’ve lost to them twice and they’ve proved to be a good side, pretty consistent as well.

“They had a loose start, similar to ours, but since then they’ve been so consistent, winning games on a regular basis.

“They’ve just beaten St Helens who were in a bit of a dip and didn’t play well, but Huddersfield just put you under pressure. They don’t make many errors and really challenge you across all areas of the field, both coming off their own line and on your own try-line.

“They know what they’re doing, they’re well organised and have good players across the field so it will be a tough game for us.

“They’ve a few ex-Cas players in there who will be motivated. I think Jamie Ellis is the one who’s played really well for them this year, his turn off his right foot and his kicking game’s been pretty good.

“But we know what their strengths and weaknesses are and it’s about us playing well. We’ve got to put them under some pressure.

“We all know it will be a tough game, but that’s the way it should be at this stage of the season.

“We had a couple of tough calls against us last time we played them. We were disappointed at the time and looking back now you still can’t quite understand some of the calls, but it’s a different game, new game – we need to just pull together, be really strong and produce an excellent performance.”