Daryl Powell has praised his Castleford Tigers players for the way they responded to the challenge he set them in last Sunday’s 16-12 victory over St Helens.
Powell left four first team stars out while five others were injured and saw his somewhat makeshift side produce a committed defensive effort and find a way to get the better of a much improved Saints team.
Proud coach Powell told the Express: “It was an incredible performance from the guys.
“It was always going to be a tough game for us with the decision I made to rest players and the injuries that meant we had nine players missing.
“But what a performance, to put an effort in like that and be so tough defensively.
“We were a little bit off with the ball as could be expected with so many combination changes so to get over the top of a full strength St Helens team was outstanding.”
Powell continued: “We spoke at half-time about just getting a little bit of parity in our game.
“I think putting Mike McMeeken on there late in the first half sort of tidied us up a little bit. Kevin Larroyer was doing a lot of tough things, but he’s not that embedded into our game yet so it helped putting Mike on and we came up with a couple of big plays.
“We were probably a little bit fortunate with the try at the end, Tom Holmes looked like he was slightly offside, but we’ve had times in the past against St Helens when they’ve ridden a bit of luck to beat us.
“You reap what you sow and the hard work that we did meant we thoroughly deserved the two points I thought.
“You get some tough calls here and there across the year and we’ve had some tough ones ourselves. We had some tough ones in this game.
“We found a way to win. Games ebb and flow and the way we were going we would probably have come up with something after that try to win the game.”
Powell was delighted with the efforts of all 17 players used against St Helens, but singled out several for special praise.
He added: “Some of the scrambled defence was outstanding.
“Jy Hitchcox has hardly played this year, but he came on and saved three tries with some fantastic defence on our right wing.
“There were some big performances out there.
“I thought Nathan Massey was incredible and Paul McShane as well. Alex Foster had a big game having not played much rugby league.
“You couldn’t pick a player who didn’t do himself justice, I thought they were superb all the way through.
“For Holmesy to get the winning try is a good reward for him.
“He’s hung in and done some good things.
“There’s some bits he needs to improve, but that was a great effort to get the ball down. He copped one in the chops in the act of scoring the try and showed a fair bit of bravery to go and finish it off. He did well.”