Powell pays tribute to Cas squad
7:21am Tuesday 22nd April 2014 in © Press Association 2014
Castleford boss Daryl Powell paid tribute to his players as they moved up to second in the First Utility Super League with a crushing 40-6 victory over Warrington.
It came as little shock that this season's surprise package won at the Men-A-Hose Jungle, but the manner in which they brushed aside last season's Grand Final runners-up served notice that their high standing in the table is no fluke.
They have now won eight matches this season - one less than they managed in the entirety of last year - and Powell admits even he is surprised by their position in the standings.
"I thought we'd be good," he said. "When you put a team together and you've got quite a few new players in there then you don't know how good.
"But the way the players have gone about it, it is a rightful position. It's not by any fluke or luck, the players are putting genuine performances in.
"Whether I thought we'd be second I'm not sure about that, but I thought we'd be competing on a weekly basis."
After a nip-and-tuck opening half hour, Cas never looked back after two converted tries from Michael Shenton gave them an 18-6 half-time lead.
Second-half tries from James Clare, who also grabbed their opener, Jamie Ellis and Richard Owen ensured there would be no way back for Warrington before Shenton put the seal on an incredible win by completing his hat-trick.
"I thought we played some really smart stuff. Early on, Warrington just punched their noses through us a little bit and they had a little bit of ascendancy in terms of field position, but once we got a foothold in the game we were really good," said Powell.
"It was a really solid, professional effort with some sprinklings of outstanding play in there, so it's a great effort from us."
The triumph was made all the more remarkable by Powell making eight changes from the side that beat Wakefield on Good Friday, with nine-try top scorer Justin Carney rested and the entire forward pack changed.
"We should be starting to believe that we've got a genuine team here. It doesn't matter who I put in, everybody just does their job," added Powell, who acknowledges he will have a selection dilemma ahead of their next fixture against Sheffield in the Challenge Cup.
"They're a great group of blokes and they're working so hard. It's a bit of a headache but it's a good headache.
"The depth of the squad is there for a reason. It's there so players are constantly being pushed to improve the game and the players are going to continue throughout the year improving."
Warrington's only points came through Michael Monaghan's converted try on a day where they suffered their fifth defeat in 10 games this season after being thoroughly outclassed.
Coach Tony Smith admitted his side were second best and was left unhappy by their attacking display.
"They were a lot sharper, particularly in the second half. I've just asked some of my staff to see if they could unpack our attacking game, I think it was left on the coach," said the Australian, who revealed Ben Harrison sustained a wrist problem and could join a number of injured first-team players on the sidelines.
"It wasn't a great day for us and Cas played well.
"The first half, there wasn't much between the two teams. The scoreline suggested that as well and they probably deserved to be slightly ahead at half-time, but they found some momentum in the second half.
"Whichever team was going to pop up with some of those big plays was going to get control of the game."