2018 seems like it's been all about St Helens; they are running away with the league, they are in the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup and look odds-on favourites to return to Old Trafford for the first time since 2014. Warrington has received many plaudits for the way that new boss Steve Price has turned around the club following a dismal 2017 whilst Wigan appear set to finish in the top four after a year's hiatus.

But, comfortably settling in the top four are Castleford - a team that has been written off since the very beginning of the season when they were thrashed 46-6 by runaway leaders St Helens.

With the Super 8s looming, there is nothing to say that the Tigers cannot make the semi-finals of the playoffs or even book a place in the Grand Final for the second year running.

Avoiding Saints is key

Castleford have already guaranteed a top-four spot at the end of the regular season which ensures four home games for the Super 8s; the fans down at the Jungle - who are within inches of the pitch - give the players that extra boost that will be needed in the end-of-season run-in and winning those four home fixtures - likely to be Warrington, Huddersfield, Hull FC and Catalans as things stand - would give the Tigers a superb platform from which to launch their Grand Final assault.

Ask any Castleford fan though and the one team they would want to avoid in the semi-final play-offs would be St Helens, especially away from home.

That means that the Tigers must finish higher than fourth place. Castleford has already been hammered three times by the Lancashire side in 2018 and will, of course, be wanting to give the Saints a wide berth if they end up in the top four. Take any other team in the league however and the Tigers have beaten each and every one of them at some point this season.

Of course, Saints are not unbeatable, but they just seem to have a hold on the Tigers this year.

Getting big players back

Castleford has had their fair share of injuries this season too; halfbacks Ben Roberts and Luke Gale have been missing for most of the year, whilst head coach Daryl Powell has been unable to name an unchanged squad at any point in 2018.

The Tigers have had to rely heavily on teenage scrum-half Jake Trueman and back-up stand-off Jamie Ellis to steer the team around the field. In fact, Castleford had 11 out at one stage a few weeks ago, but, despite this the Yorkshire club managed to win superbly at Warrington and at home against Wigan.

Luke Gale is nearing his comeback whilst the likes of Greg Eden and Jesse Sene-Lefao have returned to the squad in recent weeks following battles with injury. The Tigers are getting the right players back at the right time. They have struggled this year to nail down a permanent spine - a fullback, two halfbacks and a hooker - yet they are still in within a shout of a home semi-final. When Gale comes back, watch the Tigers tick; Gale is not the reigning Man of Steel for nothing and he is instrumental for this Castleford side.

Teams falling off

Wigan look to have been heavily disrupted with the news that head coach Shaun Wane is leaving whilst Warrington have hit a few obstacles in recent weeks. Marc Sneyd is still sat on the sidelines for Hull FC, whilst Jake Connor has now been ruled out for the rest of the season. The Tigers are currently seven points clear of the Airlie Birds in fifth and look to be gaining momentum at the right time.

Warrington has won just three of their last seven, Wigan only three of their last eight whilst Castleford have won five and drawn one from their last seven. This is a team in confident mood and one that has no pressure on them whatsoever as opposed to 2017. Second is firmly within Castleford's reach and everyone knows what that means - a home semi-final play-off down at the Jungle.