TODAY’S BIG Betfred Super League derby isn’t the traditional showdown between Wigan and St Helens, it’s at the Jungle where leaders Castleford Tigers take on fifth-placed Wakefield Trinity.
Rival coaches Daryl Powell and Chris Chester are both predicting a cracker – and not underestimating the importance of this afternoon’s clash and the Easter double-header.
Tigers visit St Helens on Monday and Powell said: “Two games in four days challenges players physically and from an energy perspective, but if we can get four points it will certainly put us in an incredible position.”
But Trinity are also one of the competition’s form teams and Powell knows his men won’t have it all their own way today. He warned: “We have to be mindful of the threat they pose.
“They are playing well and they challenge teams. They pass the ball well and they’ve got a good combination with Kyle Wood starting at nine and Jacob Miller coming off the bench and Liam Finn going to nine.
“David Fifita is one of the best forwards going forward, he is a real handful and Tom Johnstone is one of the best wingers in the competition. They are well-balanced and they look like they are enjoying playing together. They’ve gone to St Helens and Catalans and won and you don’t do that if you haven’t got a fair bit going for you.”
Tigers, though, produced one of their finest performances under Powell to win at champions Wigan Warriors eight days ago.
“We are defending well and we’ve got a bit of confidence about us,” Powell said. “A lot of our players are in a bit of a groove and I just think it promises to be a great game.”
Chester described Tigers as “the best team in the competition by a long way at the moment”, but reckons his men can challenge them.
He said: “We played them in pre-season and they put 20 points on us before we knew what was going on.
“They were very, very good against us in the first 30 minutes and we are fully aware what they are going to throw at us.
“It is a good test for us, it’s a derby game, both sets of players will be up for it and it’s one we are looking forward to.”
Trinity, who play host to Wgan on Monday, have quietly won five of their last six games. Chester is happy for them to “continue going under the radar”, but knows their much-improved defence will be challenged today.
“What’s been pleasing for us so far is how few points we’ve conceded,” he said. “We didn’t concede in the second half against Leigh or last week against Widnes.
“They are working hard for each other and they don’t want to let their team-mates down, but it’ll be a test this week.
“They [Castleford] are very difficult to prepare or game-plan for. The shape they throw at you is hard to defend against.
“Trying to keep them out of your 10 or 20-metre zone is very difficult, especially on a small pitch, but we are going there full of confidence, we want to try and turn them over and we’ll see what happens.”
Powell will select from the 17 who won at Wigan, plus Andy Lynch and Grant Millington. Keith England and Mason Caton-Brown are added to the Trinity team on duty against Widnes.
Castleford Tigers: from Chase, Cook, Eden, Gale, Hardaker, O Holmes, Lynch, Massey, McShane, McMeeken, Millington, Minikin, Milner, Monaghan, Moors, Roberts, Sene-Lefao, Springer, Webster.
Wakefield Trinity: from Allgood, Arona, Arundel, Ashurst, Caton-Brown, England, Fifita, Finn, Grix, Hadley, Hirst, Huby, Johnstone, Jones-Bishop, Kirmond, Miller, Tupou, Williams, Wood.
Referee: Chris Kendall (Huddersfield).
Kick-off: Today, 2.30pm.