Why Castleford Tigers are still a major threat in 2022 despite tough start

Going into the season, many expected big things from Castleford Tigers.

Branded as a “new era” two-time Challenge Cup winning coach Lee Radford came in hoping to have a similar effect as he did at Hull FC potentially giving the Tigers that little bit of steel they need to win silverware which was possibly the only thing they lacked under Daryl Powell losing three major finals in his time in charge.

Radford also led the most exciting recruitment surge in Super League signing the likes of Jake Mamo, Bureta Faraimo, Mahe Fonua, Kenny Edwards and George Lawler as he built great squad depth and fed stars throughout his first choice 17.

Many were tipping the Tigers to ease their way into the top six, some even thought they could finish in the top six whilst others had them as high as third in their preeictions.

However, their bubble was well and truly burst at the start of the season losing to Salford in a run of results that had them, alongside fellow surprise strugglers Leeds and bottom club Toulouse, struggling in a scrap to heave themselves away from 12th spot.

Gradually, things began to change. When the Tigers’ attack clicked they’d show what they can do and batter sides but an inconsistency remained which saw them move in and out of sixth spot on a week to week basis.

But now things are beginning to change at the Jungle. In their last two games, they’ve played two of the sides in the top four and beaten both of them.

Firstly, a Danny Richardson drop goal sank the Catalans Dragons in a titanic battle before last night the Tigers blew away the in form Huddersfield Giants who themselves have been tipped for Super League glory in 2022.

These two performances have shown that the Tigers can compete with the teams in the top four something no other side in the league has consistently shown this season. It also represents a consistency and the aforementioned steel that the Tigers previously lacked.

Now in a stronger position in the hunt for play-off rugby, if they can maintain this level of performance they’ll be a side teams want to avoid at the end of the season and could be considered the dark horse for a semi-final spot or even a Grand Final spot.

After all, only Champions St Helens can claim to have beaten three of the top four in 2022 downing Wigan, Catalans and Huddersfield this season. The Tigers have of course beaten the Saints, Catalans and Huddersfield. Wigan are the only top four side they’re yet to defeat in 2022.

Making things even more promising, they beat Huddersfield last night without Niall Evalds and Gareth O’Brien – when these two return to the fold things could be even rosier at the Jungle.

That said, at next week’s Magic Weekend they may have to do it tough with Paul McShane and Jake Trueman potentially absent against rivals Leeds.

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