Castleford went into their Easter Monday clash with Warrington in relatively high spirits. A run of five victories without defeat had stifled concerns amongst the Castleford faithful that they were in for a long season after their opening round thrashing away at St Helens. But, even in those five victories, the Tigers have looked far from the finished product, having to rely on the boot of Luke Gale at home against Widnes and away at Leeds and Wakefield.

Though the weather has been far from satisfactory so far - it is no surprise that Castleford's best result of the season came at home against Hull FC when the field was the driest it had been and would be for a few months - it cannot be used as an excuse.

Castleford's game against the Wolves would likely have been called off if the Tigers did not already have a backlog of fixtures, but both teams had to play the same conditions and it is how a team adapts that sets them apart from rivals.

Past three matches

Castleford's three games prior to the Warrington fixture had all resulted in wins; but, concerns about Castleford going forward had already started to creep into the fans' mindset when the team failed to score a second-half try against what was a terrible Salford side in early March. These fears were compounded when the Tigers took Leeds apart at Elland Road in the first 25 minutes, only to slump miserably to the point that a 0-24 deficit was on the tip of being overturned - with Castleford once more failing to score in the second half.

With the weather taking a turn for the worse, Castleford were able to grind down Wakefield in a 6-11 victory, but, again the Tigers failed to score a second half try and once more had to rely on the boot of Luke Gale to bring home the two points. Castleford had been winning all three games from when the very first points were scored, yet failed to close any of the games out - a troubling sign if the Tigers were to find themselves behind in the same conditions.

Lake Castleford

The worst of the weather had been saved for Easter Monday. Castleford's groundsman and a few volunteers had spent hours of their Bank Holiday trying to get the ground fit for purpose. But, the field was in an appalling state with the grass nearest the Railway End underwater. Incredibly, both Castleford and Warrington made few handling errors which surprised most of the 6,800-strong crowd with Warrington completing an astonishing 83% of their sets.

Warrington did however, respond in the best manner to the conditions - they looked far more lively when attacking the lake that had settled in Castleford's forty in the first half and took the points when they were on offer. The Tigers, on the other hand, looked as if they were playing in slow motion and lacked the game management the Wolves possessed - Castleford turned down the option of converting three very kickable penalties in the first half. It was a winnable game and one which, being at home, the Tigers would have wanted to chalk off with another two points.


There were a few very good individual performances. Jake Trueman - operating at full-back for the second match running - dealt with the majority of Warrington kicks bravely and looked confident when returning the ball.

Liam Watts - making his debut following his high-profile move from Hull FC - took some stopping and put himself about in defence, whilst the likes of Grant Millington and Paul McShane did what they do best.

On the whole however, Castleford were just not good enough. Some fans have pointed the blame at referee Robert Hicks for a major decision deep into the second half when Jake Webster appeared to have scored only for a penalty to be awarded to Warrington. Webster was adjudged to have kicked the ball out of Tom Lineham's hands with the decision causing uproar amongst Castleford players - and their fans too - to such an extent that Hicks awarded a penalty against the Tigers for speaking "out of turn".

For me, the blame lies solely at Daryl Powell and the team's door; if the fatiguing conditions at Wakefield on Good Friday had taken a lot of out of the tank, why did Powell not rotate more of his players? In fact, there were only two changes from the side that did beat Trinity - Nathan Massey and Liam Watts coming in for Jamie Ellis and Gadwin Springer. Likewise, if the team were feeling the effects, why did they not take the three kickable penalties on offer instead of proceeding to drive for the line only to lose the ball?


In 215 hours of rugby - 55 minutes against Leeds and 160 against Wakefield and Warrington - Castleford have scored 18 points and only eight of these have come from tries.

That is a pretty damning statistic. It's all well and good using the phrase "wait until the summer" to see Castleford at their best, but the games that have been played in such terrible conditions as they have been in the past few weeks still come with two points attached to them. Castleford need to adapt - the Grand Final is often played in harsh conditions and from the Warrington game, it seems as though the Tigers still haven't learned how to play the weather as they failed to do so in October 2017.

It is a case of one step forward two steps back from the Wakefield fixture to the Warrington one and Powell will know this. With Huddersfield up next on Sunday, it is an opportunity to right the wrongs of Easter Monday and finally click into gear.