COACH Terry Matterson believes Castleford need to heed a lesson from last season for Sunday’s game at Bradford Bulls.
The Tigers, who are looking to maintain Super League’s only 100 per cent record, caught a Bradford backlash when they were hammered 41-22 at Odsal 13 months ago.
Matterson (pictured) wants to avoid a repeat as the Bulls will be desperate to bounce back from last Sunday’s 50-16 trouncing at Huddersfield Giants.
“It’s a similar scenario to when we played them last year,” he said.
“We are playing against a team who have had a big score put on them. Last year when we went to Bradford they’d just had two losses and they put 40 on us so we can learn some lessons from that and we’ve got to make sure we prepare well.”
After beating Wakefield at Millennium Magic on the opening weekend, Castleford have won three successive home matches against Huddersfield, Hull KR and Catalan.
It is their best-ever start in Super League and they are currently second in the table on points difference with a game in hand on all their rivals apart from Wigan.
“It has been nice being at home but the players have got to do it on the road now and we are looking forward to it,” said Matterson.
“Bradford is an intimidating place and it’s another challenge for us.
“We feel we still have some things to work on so there’s certainly no areas for complacency.
“We’ve just got to keep the lid on it and keep working hard.
“We are not looking at who we are playing in a month or looking at the Challenge Cup. What we’ve done really well is concentrating on the next game and not looking too far ahead.”
“The players are doing a really good job on focusing on the week in hand. We haven’t set any season goals. Our aim to is get better each week and that’s what we are concentrating on.”
With Willie Isa and Steve Snitch left out against Catalan last Saturday, Matterson is again spoiled for choice this weekend.
He said: “It’s good to know we have people there who are busting a gut to play.
“The guys who are in the team certainly cannot rest on their laurels and it’s something I will be challenging them with this week.
“I’ll have a look and see whether making any changes can strengthen us but it will difficult changing the side because the combinations are getting used to playing with each other and I’m not too sure whether making changes is the right thing. However, it’s certainly something I am not ruling out at the moment.”
Prop Paul Jackson is doubtful for Sunday after sustaining a back injury against Catalan but debutant Nick Fozzard came through the game okay.
Matterson said: “We are still having a look at Paul Jackson but he’s got to be doubtful. We’ll give him as much time as possible.
“Jonny Walker has got to have an operation on his knee so he’s going to be out for a while. We don’t know the extent of that until they operate. That’s a bit disappointing but it’s good to have Nick Fozzard back.
“I thought our bench was really good last weekend. We had to make some early substitutions to change things round and I thought Fozzard, Clark, Aspinwall and Widders made a big difference to us.”
Ryan McGoldrick (knee) and Ryan Hudson (shoulder) are still sidelined.
McGoldrick has not played this season and Hudson has been out since he played against Wakefield in Cardiff more than a month ago.
Matterson will not be rushing full-back Richard Owen back into first-team action after he missed nearly all last season with a broken leg.
He said: “Richie will play reserve grade. It’s been a traumatic injury for him and he’s come back really well but he needs some game time before we can consider him.”
Matterson was again delighted with the form of teenagers Daryl Clark, Oliver Holmes, Joe Arundel and Adam Milner in the 34-24 win against Catalan and he believes the Tigers are reaping the benefits of giving young players an opportunity to train with the first-team squad during the close season.
He said: “We brought five or six young guys into the first-team environment a couple of years ago.
“It has made a difference with them being with the first-team and being confident in what they are doing.
“They are now big and strong and their skills are getting better each week. The main thing is that physically they are ready for Super League and that’s because we’ve brought them into the first grade environment.
“Daryl Clark has now had two off seasons with the first grade and you can tell. What he has picked up being around the first team has made a big difference.”
Matterson was again pleased with his side’s composure as they recovered from 10-0 down after just eight minutes and 18-12 behind at half-time to beat Catalan.
He said: “We missed the jump against Catalan and were a bit soft out of the blocks but you’ve got to give the opposition credit because they were very good.
“We steadied the ship again and dealt with a few things at half-time and the reaction of the players was good.
“It’s difficult to be right on your game for 80 minutes. I think any team goes through lulls, whether it be at the start of a game or during the game.
“We are always trying to put an 80-minute performance together but at the end of the day the most important thing is if we win the game. It’s whether we do it from winning early or we do it from coming behind but somettimes it’s good to do it both ways.
“Teams are going to come at you and they are going to try to work the young guys over which they did last week. It’s how we react to that and make sure we don’t panic.
“We’ve got plans for different teams but we can change what we are doing and we actually upped the tempo of the game against Catalan and they really struggled to handle it. We have been showing some real composure out there even when things are not going well.”