It’s been 32 years since Castleford last won at St Helens in the league – a staggering 10,464 days – but, led by the always inspiring Paul McShane and the talented Greg Eden, the Tigers finally smashed that record with an incredible performance to beat the reigning Super League and Challenge Cup champions 20-10 at the Totally Wicked Stadium.
The Tigers went into the game on the back of a West Yorkshire derby win over Leeds which gave their once faint play-off hopes a much needed boost. Now, dreams of the top six feel much more concrete as Daryl Powell looks to end his time as Castleford head coach on a high.
Tonight’s result was certainly another milestone in Powell’s tenure and ensured he will leave the Jungle with a piece of history to his name and he couldn’t have been happier in his post-match press conference.
Speaking about what the result meant to him, he stated: “We haven’t won here for 30-odd years, so I’m made up that I’ve done that in my last game here as a Castleford coach.”
He was also delighted for his players and full of praise. Before their win at Headingley last week the Tigers had lost four on the bounce, including a 70-18 defeat to Salford and their Challenge Cup Final defeat to St Helens. But they’ve been able to turn that form around with back-to-back wins against Super League’s two eight-time Champions gaining a measure of revenge against the Saints who defeated them at Wembley a month ago.
Expressing his pride at the performance, Powell commended the effort put in by his charges tonight: “It’s just awesome; the players were so courageous tonight.
“I thought we defended really tough all the way through – we dropped some ball early on and didn’t give ourselves a chance to be in front in the game.
“But once we got hold of it we were the better team until we got to the helter-skelter period at the end which I have no idea what we were thinking about for most of that.
“We were under so much pressure and that was an unbelievable piece of skill from Greg Eden at the end.”
Powell couldn’t speak highly enough of Eden – who hadn’t played for 16 weeks prior to last week’s win over Leeds – putting the game to bed with a 95-metre interception try in the final minutes.
“He hasn’t played much Greg – he’s just coming back from a hamstring injury, so he normally goes away from players when he gets away like that.
“He’s so class; he comes up with some errors which are infuriating but does some special things and he needs to be applauded for that.”
It’ll be interesting to see whether or not Eden, who finished the 2017 campaign as the league’s top scorer with a tally of 38, can ward off competition for a place on the left wing, a position which has been held by Jordan Turner for much of this season.
Those kind of positive selection headaches are a blessing for Powell who has had to juggle injuries and Covid-absences all season, with the coach also keen to point out that his best players have now returned to the fold in time for a big play-off push.
“Three weeks ago we had 15 players out with Covid so people write you off a bit and don’t understand the situation,” added Powell.
“We had to stay consistent and keep working hard and get our best players out there on the field.”
Now that Castleford have begun to do just that with depth available in virtually every position, the Tigers can begin to dream of a play-off position which alluded them in 2020.