Castleford coach Daryl Powell was full of praise for his side after they defeated Wigan Warriors to maintain their 100 per cent start to the season.
The Tigers were dominant for large parts of the game and led by six points with only minutes to go. However, a late, converted Josh Charnley try, and a Matty Smith drop-goal, looked to have killed off the gritty home side. A superb short kick-off was regathered by the Tigers, though, and Luke Dorn went over in the corner in the dying seconds to record a historic win.
Powell, 48, was on an emotional rollercoaster.
“It was some finish,” he told the Castleford Tigers website.
“We had won it, we had drawn it, we had lost it, and then we won it again, it was crazy. I thought we were outstanding with the ball and caused Wigan a lot of trouble. It was a great game because Wigan kept coming back at us. Both teams had purple patches and we could not finish them off really.
“It was incredible to come back from that. The accuracy of the kick to restart short, winning it back, having the ability to get the ball back where we needed to to get the points was incredible.
“You know with a team like Wigan it is going to be tough, and I looked at our boys at half-time and they were under the pump a little bit. I think we have got to expect to be in those battles, and in previous years we have not been in them as much as we should. The more we can get used to that and come out of the other side, it will stand us in good stead.”
Castleford’s first three wins of the season came against sides in the bottom four of the table, so to defeat the reigning champions validated their position at the top and they are now highly fancied to make the play-offs, though the bookmakers don’t see them as top-four contenders just yet.
“I am delighted we were able to do that, because it is another question that has been asked of the team and it has been answered,” Powell said.
“We keep answering questions, and I am delighted we were able to do that today under the circumstances. We looked like we were going to score consistently with the ball. We went to the right and put a kick in which ended up in them having a go forward. At times our management of the game was a little bit off, but it was a frantic game. You can expect some of that, and if we learn from it, we will be better moving forward.
The Tigers picked up three injuries in the clash, the worst of which was a Kirk Dixon broken jaw on the 10th minute, courtesy of Michael McIlorum, who wasn’t even put on report.
“Losing Kirk Dixon was a big blow for us,” admitted Powell.
“It forced Michael Channing onto the wing where he is not comfortable, and Frankie Mariano was missed. I am disappointed for Kirk Dixon, who has had to go to hospital.
“Our forward pack has been outstanding. We lost the middle at times when they had their purple patch, and that put us under pressure, and we gave away a couple of penalties. The team is digging in and doing a great job, and I thought we were exceptional today when it looked like it had got away from us.
“I was surprised Justin Carney got binned [for punching on 6 minutes], because there was a bit of provocation there. We are trying hard to be as disciplined as we can, and I think we have got pretty good feedback from the referees in that regard.
“We said from the off today that it would be a marker of where we are. People have been talking us up after what we have done at the start of the season, with the three wins from three. To face Wigan who are highly motivated and come out of it with a win is fantastic.
“The key thing now is to not get carried away, and players to keep doing their job. At the moment though, I cannot speak highly enough of the players.”