Season Review: Castleford Tigers
2020 was an underwhelming year for the Tigers after finishing in their worst league position since 2013. Daryl Powell’s men struggled to find any sort of consistency during the latter stages of the 2020 season - reflected in winning just two of their last 10 games – injuries and Covid-19 playing a major role in their indifferent form.
The Tigers started the season in typical fashion - earning four wins from their first six games as they made strides towards the top end of the table.
The men from West Yorkshire quickly made the Mend-A-Hose Jungle their fortress, beating eventual Grand Finalists Wigan Warriors at home in round two before producing a season best performance in round seven against champions St Helens to sit joint top of the table as the season headed into the break.
A formidable start to the year was met with contrasting fortunes when the Tigers resumed their season in August. After their heroics against the Saints before the break, the Tigers slumped into the second half of the season and laboured through their remaining fixtures in disappointing fashion.
Three defeats on the bounce after the break left a bruised Tigers squad deflated and facing an uphill battle to save their season and reach the play-offs.
In a must win round 11 contest against the Red Devils, the Tigers clawed their way back from an early 18-0 deficit to offer a glimmer of hope for their season in pursuing a top four spot.
That hope was devastatingly shattered after a late Matty Ashton try in a tense defeat against Warrington Wolves the following week. Ashton's effort snatched victory from the Tigers grasp and proved to be the undoing in their attempts to reinvigorate their season.
The Tigers managed just one more win in 2020 during a year that took its toll on their squad. Disruptions to the Tigers line-up led to inconsistencies on the field and ended the Tigers year in eighth place on the Super League ladder.
Castlefords shrewd off-season acquisition of Danny Richardson seemingly answered any questions regarding their loss of the influential Luke Gale. However, Richardson's inability to play regularly alongside Jake Trueman during the latter-stages of the season - in an injury ridden year for young Trueman - inhibited the Tigers chances of competing late on.
A year which started with so much promise for the Castleford Tigers quickly ended in despair. Their only real consolation was the recognition of Paul McShane’s stellar season as he was awarded the coveted Steve Prescott MBE Man of Steel Award.
Player of the year
How could we look past the 2020 Steve Prescott MBE Man of Steel Paul McShane?
McShane’s consistently brilliant effort, attitude and performances over recent years resulted in the hooker enjoying a huge season personally – concluding with him being awarded with the Man of Steel trophy for 2020.
McShane was at the heart of everything Castleford did well this year - controlling his team around the pitch and a real leader of the squad – he has become an irreplaceable member of the Tigers team and sets the benchmark for his teammates to follow.
All eyes were on Castleford and St Helens at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle in round seven. It was the last game standing after the sporting world began to shut its doors following the Covid-19 pandemic. The sun was shining in West Yorkshire as the Tigers produced a typically ‘Classy Cas’ performance for all to see.
Daryl Powell’s men scored some brilliant tries and played with freedom and enjoyment as they moved the ball around for fun. Derrell Olpherts scored a brace and Danny Richardson kicked four goals in a pleasing victory for the half-back, defeating the club he departed during the off-season.
Blair's in for @CTRLFC, the Tigers edge closer to a win over the champs! 🐯
Live on @SkySportsRL Main Event & Arena now! #SLCasStH #SuperLeague pic.twitter.com/XMunSDO8Kd
— Betfred Super League (@SuperLeague) March 15, 2020
The Tigers would’ve been tipped to sail into the play-offs based on their early season form. However, things quickly turned sour for Daryl Powell's men and an eighth placed finish reflected their dire end to the year.