Lessons learned from the recent Challenge Cup game can stand Castleford Tigers in good stead according to Daryl Powell as they look to make it third time lucky against St Helens in tonight’s big Betfred Super League clash.
With the cup meeting less than a fortnight ago the head coach believes his players will have it fresh in their mind what they need to do to improve, although with two defeats to Saints already in 2018 he acknowledged it is a big challenge.
He said: “I think we should be really excited about this game.
“We obviously were for the Challenge Cup game when I thought we competed well with them, but not for long enough.
“The lessons we learned from that game should really stand us in good stead.
“It’s a great challenge for us. They’re a really good side and we’ve got to defend superbly well. They attack really well and put you under pressure and have got lots of good players in all positions. Our pack’s going to have to play well and we’ve got to contain Ben Barba and defend consistently.
“I thought last time we played them we didn’t put them under pressure for long enough. We’ve got to be more consistent. We showed some improvements last week in our durability as a team and we’ll need that to be as good, if not better this week.”
Cas again come up against the outstanding player of 2018 in Ben Barba, who has been Saints’ man of the match in the clubs’ last three meetings. Powell thought his team dealt well with him in the cup tie yet he still grabbed a hat-trick of tries and made two more.
Powell said: “I think we were all right with him, but he got some broken field opportunities and if you give him them he’s the best I’ve seen for a long time at taking advantage.
“The key is to not give him those opportunities where he can just pick a ball up with a retreating defence and have a lot of space to run into. You’ve got to keep control of where you finish your sets. You’re never going to stop him doing everything.
“But I thought we did a good job in shutting him down in large parts, particularly in the first half, and we were unlucky.”
Cas go into tonight’s game off the back of an improved performance against Leeds Rhinos at Magic Weekend and Powell was pleased with what he saw.
He added: “We played really well. I thought our pack was awesome, our half-backs were really good and the team performance was excellent.”
Two players from the team that beat Leeds have dropped out of the squad with Joe Wardle and Jake Webster picking up knocks. But Ben Roberts returns after missing the last four games and Powell will make a decision on whether he comes back in as full-back or half-back.