If Castleford fans had been offered seven points out of a possible eight a month ago, they would have snapped your hand off. With a host of injuries - indeed, no less than 11 first-teamers were sat on the sidelines for the Tigers' game against Wigan on Friday night - Castleford has been doing it tough in recent weeks. But, head coach Daryl Powell has managed to mastermind three wins and a draw from their last four games - two of them over top-four rivals Warrington and Wigan.

The likes of Leeds and Wigan have themselves been struggling with injuries and, as a result, have dropped in form quite significantly, yet Castleford continues to strengthen their grip on a top-four place, despite having to combat greater adversity.

The culture at the Tigers is something special - everyone witnessed the togetherness of the club in 2017, yet even when things were incredibly tough at the beginning of the season, the players, coaches and fans all stuck together. The win against a Wigan side missing seven first-team players - including the three called up to the England squad - epitomised the solidarity running through the club.

Adversity during the game

The Tigers were not only doing it tough before the game had started, but they were on the receiving end of some very harsh calls from referee James Child. Willie Isa should have been sin-binned for taking Jy Hitchcox out in the air - which saw the latter depart the field in severe pain - whilst Matt Cook was yellow carded in the 69th minute for a "crusher" tackle which was seen only by Wigan fullback Sam Tomkins.

All Rugby League fans want is consistency from referees, but twice Castleford were penalised for moving off the mark in very harsh circumstances. On both occasions, a Wigan player was caught in the ruck and so the Tigers man had to skirt around him to avoid stepping on the Warriors man, only for Child to whistle in Wigan's favour.


Castleford was down 4-12 at half-time, but Isa's tackle on Hitchcox just seven minutes into the second-half kickstarted a Castleford revival. Tries from Michael Shenton and Matt Cook sent the Tigers into the lead - Cook's effort came after James Green had bombed a certain try just moments before - before Child sent Cook to the sin-bin with 11 minutes to go.

Wigan's Romain Navarrete went into a tackle awkwardly and stayed down. Child seemed willing to let the game go on before blowing for time off - at which point Tomkins once more charged to the referee to give him an earful.

It was at this point that Child changed his mind and gave Cook his marching orders, leaving the Tigers with 12 men for the remainder of the game. Wigan duly profited on 71 minutes with another try to make it 18-18 and looked most likely to break the deadlock with the extra man. But, Castleford found something from somewhere to keep the pressure on the visitors too, finally sealing the game with a minute and a half left courtesy of a Jamie Ellis drop-goal. It was a superb end to a superb second-half, giving the Tigers another vital two points which most fans felt before the game would not be forthcoming.

Positives in abundance

Powell may well have had 11 men sat on the sidelines - Luke Gale, Ben Roberts, Greg Eden, Greg Minikin, Liam Watts, Joe Wardle, Oliver Holmes, Adam Milner, Mike McMeeken, Alex Foster and Jesse Sene-Lefao - but their replacements justified their selection. Gadwin Springer and Mitch Clark both had terrific games, whilst Tuoyo Egodo and James Green did not look out of place. Certainly, Springer and Clark deserve to keep their spot for the upcoming fixture against Catalans. Junior Moors and Grant Millington were sensational in the back-row whilst new signing Quentin Laulu-Togaga'e had a stormer in his natural fullback position.

Whilst rival teams are struggling to plug the gap that injuries, suspensions or national call-ups have yielded, Castleford and Daryl Powell are making no excuses.

The fact that Powell can trust those coming into the side to do a good enough job is testament to the fantastic culture that he himself has installed at the club. Even with 11 first-team players out, the Tigers look determined to get back to Old Trafford. And, on this form, they will be hard to stop.