Castleford Tigers boss Daryl Powell accepts his side has a difficult task in the forthcoming Super Eights, but is backing them to achieve their top four aim.
The Tigers go into the second phase of the Super League competition in fifth place, two points behind Huddersfield Giants and with an inferior points difference, but Powell believes they have given themselves a good chance of getting into the play-offs if they can beat the Giants when they meet them again and rediscover their consistency.
Powell was unhappy with the manner of Cas’s defeat to Warrington last Sunday, but with the players refreshed after a week off he expects them to be raring to go when the Super Eights begin.
He told the Express: “We’ve got a good chance in the Super Eights, but they’re all going to be tough games.
“We’ve gone from being really consistent to being a little bit up and down. Our last three performances have seen us have a good win against Wakefield, but we had a really poor second half against Hull and a poor performance against Warrington so it’s about getting back to our best.
“We need to be more consistent again in what we deliver and we know we can do this. The players have got a good team ethic, it’s about being consistent with that now.
“It’s going to be a tough competition, you are not playing against any of the teams that are lower down in the table. It’s top eight and it’s every week. But I think we’re good enough to be in the top four.
“We’ve given ourselves a bit of work to do to get ourselves in there and we need to get our toughness back that we had previously. It’s about delivering at the end of the season.
“We’ve obviously done well to give ourselves a chance. We’ve finished fifth after 23 games, which although we are disappointed with last week is a great effort from everybody, particularly after the start we had. But now it’s important you show you can get on with it and be tough when it’s really needed.
“All the boys need to batten down the hatches and stiffen up and look forward to what’s going to be a really difficult end to the season, but the prize that’s at the end of it is obviously a big one.”
Castleford are set to play three games at home and four away, including a visit to Huddersfield, which Powell sees as a key game.
He said: “We wanted four games at home, which we didn’t get by virtue of finishing fifth, and they’re all against the best sides so we know it’s going to be a difficult proposition, but one we’re looking forward to the challenge of.
“We’re two points off fourth and we are going to need to be outstanding.
“We need to beat Huddersfield when we play them, which we haven’t quite managed to do yet, and then consistently chalk games off.
“We are going to have to win all our home games then win a couple away from home – and Huddersfield certainly needs to be one of those.
“I think there’ll be a strong awareness of what’s needed.
“We get to play Warrington at home again, which is good. It was one of our worst performances of the season so you’d think we’d be highly motivated to play them again.
“Obviously after what happened to Luke Gale as well I’d like to see a bit more vigour in the way we go about our game when he we get them again.”