Although Castleford Tigers begin the second half of their Super League season in third place head coach Daryl Powell has warned that there can be no slackening off if they want to challenge for honours.
After Sunday’s home game with Widnes the Tigers will have played every team and the table will be a true reflection of the season so far. Whatever the result Cas will be in the top four and they go into the game as the league’s highest points scorers while also boasting the third best defensive record.
Praise for the latest dazzling display against Wakefield Wildcats is still ringing in their ears with the “classy Cas” tag returning to describe the brand of rugby league being served up by Powell’s men.
Powell also praised the players, but he reminded them that there is still more to be done.
He told the Express: “I’m really pleased to be where we are in the table and we’re a little unfortunate not to be higher.
“We could have had at least a couple more wins, but we can’t complain as we’ve done well to be as competitive as we have been.
“There’s only the Salford the game where we let ourselves down for a large part of the game. Other than that the consistency has been outstanding from the players.
“We’ve scored more points than any other team in the comp, which is fantastic when you look at Leeds and the players they have got and you look at the way Wigan have been going in the last few years and St Helens are obviously a good side.
“We’re also bottom of the pile in the number of tackles that have been missed and the pride in both stats shows we are doing something right and that the players are delivering everything we ask of them.
“But we mustn’t get too carried away with ourselves because there’s a lot of hard work to be done. We need to maintain our focus and individual players need to keep improving.
“We need to keep improving collectively as well and that will give us a great opportunity to stay up near the top.”
Powell believes his team will have to be at their best again this Sunday if they are to beat a Widnes side that has almost matched the Tigers in the first half of the season.
He said: “They’re similar to us and Denis Betts has done a high quality job there.
“They’ve been really difficult to beat this year and are at the right end of the table.
“They guts games out – last week they had a lot of players missing and got the job done. That shows what they’re about and they are difficult to beat.
“Kevin Brown’s a key man. Jon Clarke got injured last week, but’s got strong leadership and Rhys Hanbury is sharp at the back. But they are one of those teams that is greater than the sum of the parts.
“They have a strong team ethic and within that they have quality players who can put you under a lot of pressure.
“Once we’ve played Widnes we’ve played everybody and we’ve not been far off in any of the games. That’s really pleasing and this is a good chance for us to have a look at the only team we haven’t played and see how we come out against them over 80 minutes.”
Powell admits to having one or two tricky selection decisions to make for Sunday’s game.
He added: “Luke Dorn should be available again, which gives me a bit of a selection dilemma. Jordan Tansey’s played pretty well in the last couple of games and I’ve got James Clare as well who has played well at full-back.
“I thought Jamie Ellis played well last week and Adam Milner didn’t play, but he’s available for selection so I’ve got some decisions that I need to make that are tough ones.”