Cas can handle ‘bigger stage’

Daryl PowellHead coach Daryl Powell believes Castleford Tigers (2/1 Challenge Cup outright) proved they can handle the “bigger stage” in Sunday’s Challenge Cup semi-final win over Widnes Vikings.

Castleford booked their place in this month’s Challenge Cup final against Leeds Rhinos (4/11 Challenge Cup outright) with a resounding 28-6 victory over Widnes at Leigh Sports Village.

Liam Finn, Daryl Clark, Kirk Dixon, Jamie Ellis and Jamie Webster all scored tries as Cas dominated the Vikings, with Marc Sneyd contributing with four goals.

It is their first Wembley appearance since 1992 and comes near the end of an impressive season with the club fourth in the Super League, two points behind leaders St Helens.

Powell labelled the win “crucial” and believes it puts an end to doubts over the mentality of his inexperienced squad in big matches.

“We started superbly. There was a real focus about the boys and obviously scoring early gives you a great opportunity to settle down,” Powell told the Yorkshire Evening Post.

“Defensively it was a really, really good effort against a team that can cause you a lot of trouble. I was really pleased with the 80 minutes. It was a quality 80 minutes from the players I thought.

“We have got big-game players. Marc Sneyd is a young player who has not had a lot of big-game experience, but I think he is a big-game player.

“Liam Finn came of age as a big-game player and he was superb. And we’ve got people like Shenny (captain Michael Shenton) who has been around and experienced it all.

“We stood up and a lot of people showed they can handle the bigger stage, which is crucial.”

Castleford will face Leeds at Wembley Stadium on August 23 and are priced at 21/10 to win, with Leeds the favourites at 2/5 and a draw 20/1.

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