Early season report: Castleford Tigers
We take a look at how Castleford Tigers have fared in the opening two months of the 2020 Super League season.
Before the start of the season, when pundits and former players were giving their predictions for the campaign ahead, not many were tipping Castleford for a spot near the top of the Super League table.
Two months on and the Tigers are sitting pretty in second after a highly impressive start to the season.
Daryl Powell's side have won five of their opening seven matches, with their expansive brand of rugby leading to victories over the likes of Wigan Warriors and St Helens.
Even in defeat, at the hands of Catalans and Warrington, the West Yorkshire outfit have put in a good account of themselves.
The 2020 season is looking their best chance of silverware since the League Leaders' Shield success of 2017.
Olpherts 😱 HOW?!?@CTRLFC are flying live on @SkySportsRL Main Event & Arena now! #SLCasStH #SuperLeague pic.twitter.com/6m4KW0vB6T
— Betfred Super League (@SuperLeague) March 15, 2020
Story so far
W (28-10) v Toronto Wolfpack
W (16-12) v Wigan Warriors
L (18-36) v Catalans Dragons
W (32-15) v Wakefield Trinity
W (28-8) v Hull KR
L (8-9) v Warrington Wolves
W (28-14) v St Helens
Paul McShane has not only been Castleford’s standout performer but also the best player in Super League. The hooker’s full range of abilities have enabled him to be a constant threat with ball in hand. He has run 51 times from dummy half, more than anyone else in Super League. McShane’s efforts see him lead the race to be Steve Prescott Man of Steel with 15 points, six clear of his closest rival.
Most impressive new signing
Castleford’s recruitment went under the radar in the off-season, such was the high calibre of player signed by other Super League clubs. However, the Tigers looked to have done some excellent business. The acquisition of Danny Richardson the best of the lot. The former St Helens half-back has taken to life at his new club excellently and played a crucial role in the win over his former club.
.@DannyRich96 with his first @CTRLFC try ☝️
The Tigers go ahead live on @SkySportsRL now #SLHKRCas #SuperLeague pic.twitter.com/2aGI3TD1zR
— Betfred Super League (@SuperLeague) February 27, 2020
The Tigers’ most recent effort against St Helens is their best showing of 2020 thus far. The defending champions were put to the sword at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle as Castleford put in a powerful display in the final game before Super League was suspended because of Coronavirus.
There has not been much so far to be downbeat about for Castleford fans. The defeat to Warrington is probably one they feel their team might have won. Blake Austin’s late drop-goal edged the Wolves to a 9-8 victory, but the Tigers had chances of their own to win at the Halliwell Jones Stadium. They might well have come away with a win on another night.
What’s to come?
Castleford supporters will be hopeful their side can continue their early season momentum when Super League returns. The enforced break comes at a time when it felt as if the Tigers were starting to build something special. It will be interesting to see if they can continue that form and maintain their push at the top of the table, or whether teams such as Warrington, St Helens and Hull FC close the gap as the season goes on. As of now, however, Castleford look like a big contender in 2020.