In 2017, Castleford Tigers hit the headlines with their superb Super League form, scooping up the League Leaders' Shield and finishing a record ten points in front of second-placed Leeds. Wind the clock forward a year, and it is St Helens in the driving seat, repeating Castleford's form from last year to be within touching distance of first place, the Challenge Cup Final and a guaranteed top four home play-off. While there was almost too much pressure on the Tigers to win the Grand Final in 2017 - after they had swatted aside most of the league in enthralling fashion - 2018 is very different, to say the least.

Little has been made of Castleford's exploits so far this year; head coach Daryl Powell has had to consistently swap and changes his side around due to injuries, yet the club still sits pretty in the top four. In fact, the Tigers have had seven different fullbacks - Ben Roberts, Jake Trueman, Michael Shenton, Calum Turner, Greg Eden, James Clare and Quentin Laulu-Togaga'e (QLT) - which is likely to be eight if new signing Peter Mata'utia gets the nod at No.1 in the Super 8s. The Tigers have also played out the majority of the season without their two main halfbacks - Luke Gale and Ben Roberts - with Jake Trueman, Jamie Ellis, and QLT the ones filling in.

Good position in the table

But, the Tigers are still third in the Super League table - one point behind Wigan in second and two in front of Warrington in third.

A top-four finish looks increasingly likely with fifth-placed Huddersfield eight points behind the Tigers going into the Super 8s.

Although Castleford's form in 2018 has been a far cry away from that of 2017, they are still in with a great shout of reaching Old Trafford for a second consecutive season.

Getting players back

On the injury front, Castleford's talisman Luke Gale is nearing a return to the first-team, and everyone knows just how integral the scrum-half is to how the Tigers play.

Though Grant Millington and Matt Cook are out injured - and both play a huge role in this Castleford team - it is up to the likes of Liam Watts, Jesse Sene-Lefao, and Junior Moors to ensure their absences are not felt too greatly. The return of Mike McMeeken and Greg Eden is timely, while Joe Wardle and Ben Roberts must be nearing their comebacks soon.

New signings Liam Watts, QLT and Peter Mata'utia, appeared to have settled in well and all three will be vital for the Tigers as they go into the business end of the season. Paul McShane has been at his very best in 2018 - again baffling many supporters as to why England head coach Wayne Bennett has not included the hooker in his 25-man England Performance Squad - and looks to be heading for Castleford's Player of the Year. The Tigers have a well-balanced squad and the right mix of youth and experience that could see them knock St Helens' dreams of a sixth Super League Grand Final victory.