Castleford’s domination of Super League this year will not make much of a difference in Thursday’s Super League semi-final against St Helens, according to coach Daryl Powell.
The Tigers won the League Leaders’ Shield for the first time in the club’s 91-year history, finishing 10 points clear at the top, but could end the year without reaching a final.
They lost to Hull in the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup and in the first Super League semi-final face a tough visit from St Helens in their pursuit of a maiden Grand Final appearance.
Powell said: “You’ve got to win play-off games. That’s the challenge, to be able to do your job when the pressure is on.
“We’re mindful of everything it stands for. We’ve just got to turn up, be nice and relaxed, play well and put Saints under pressure.”
Castleford Tigers vs St Helens
September 28, 2017, 7:30pm
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Castleford are coming off the back of a 48-16 home defeat by Hull and also lost in the opening round of the Super 8s two months ago to Saints, who became the first visiting team to win at the Mend-a-Hose Jungle in 2017.
Powell added: “They beat us fair and square, we were a little bit off that night and our team might look a little bit different to what it did that night, we’ve just got to turn up and play well.”
St Helens, the 2014 champions, stumbled in the Super 8s with three consecutive defeats and only secured their place in the top four with victory in their final game at Salford last Thursday.
But they finished the regular season with three victories in a row and have won 11 of their 17 games under Australian coach Justin Holbrook, including that 26-12 triumph at the Jungle.
Holbrook said: “It’s always good to have that in the back of your mind, knowing you have won there. It’s a very tough place to play.”
St Helens were in danger of being cut adrift of the top four when Holbrook succeeded Keiron Cunningham in May but the coach now has the chance to emulate fellow Australian Peter Sharp, who took Hull to the Grand Final within six months of entering Super League.
Watch Castleford v St Helens in the Super League Super 8s semi-final on Thursday. Coverage begins on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Arena at 7:30pm.