Powell: Play-offs ten weeks in making

Posted: Wednesday 11th September 2019 - 5:31 PM

Castleford head to Wigan this Thursday knowing a win would secure a place in the end-of-season play-offs next week after a hugely impressive victory over rivals Hull FC left them in the driving seat last Thursday.

A defeat to the Warriors in the final round of the Betfred Super League campaign would open the door for the Black and Whites once again, but the Fords will travel to the DW Stadium full of confidence after seven wins in their last nine matches.

Speaking to castlefordtigers.com, Powell explained a key factor in his team’s recent success: “I think it’s been our training, we switched things up about 10 weeks ago to really step up how hard we were working and how hard we were training.

“I think the players have recognised that change and we’re more durable now. We were going set for set with teams but cracking first and conceding points way too easily earlier in the season and I think some of that was down to our fitness.

“We’ve really stepped things up in that area to improve our durability and some positional changes have helped as well. If you look at the right centre Pete Mata’utia has gone there who is a really experienced defender. Cheyse Blair has been outstanding in our last two games and together they’ve helped our edges to look really strong.

“We’ve conceded four tries in our last four games and one of those was a breakaway against Hull so we’re working hard and we’re not getting broken down very much.

“If you want to win anything you’ve got to have a really strong defence and I’ve been really pleased with that area of our game.”

Having put themselves into the top-five heading into the final league match before the play-offs, Cas must take on a Wigan side in rich form themselves after overcoming their own poor early season form to march up to second in the table in recent weeks.

The equation is simply – beat the Warriors and a place in the play-offs is secure, with a trip to any of Salford, Warrington or Wigan the reward next Thursday, whilst a draw or defeat would leave Hull able to overtake the Tigers when they face league leaders St Helens 24 hours later.

“We’d said that it’s up to us and not to rely on other results,” Powell added.

“We’ve got to focus on us and get our job done ourselves. Hull have got a tough game, we’ve got a tough game, but we’re getting set up to travel across to Lancashire pretty much every week if we’re in the play-offs.

“We’ve been over to St Helens recently, we’re going over to Wigan this week and so everything is setting itself up so that if we’re good enough to get in the play-offs then we can have a real crack at it.

“We’ll be used to playing on the road in Lancashire and playing in tough games as well. Our mentality is good at the minute, I think you can see that we’re in a good place.

“We can’t put in anything less than a quality performance against Wigan and it will help us going into next week if we bring that and get the result.”

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