Castleford host Wigan at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle for Friday’s Sky Sports fixture, with both sides having contrasting fortunes in the last two weeks. Here’s everything you need to know.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
After a disappointing loss at home to St Helens, the Tigers travelled to Leeds and were on the wrong end of Sky’s first televised Golden Point game, losing 21-20 last week.
Castleford have really dipped in terms of on-field plays in both fixtures and will be looking to right a few wrongs against a below-par Wigan side on Friday night.
In contrasting fortunes, Wigan are finally moving up the table thanks to victories at Salford and a 42-0 thrashing of Catalans last weekend.
However, with more controversy surrounding the club due to Gabe Hamlin’s anti-doping violation, can the Warriors continue to improve?
Head coach Daryl Powell has been forced to make four changes to his squad. Hooker Paul McShane starts the first of his three-match suspension and Jordan Rankin drops out of the squad after missing last week’s game through injury. Junior Moors and Chris Clarkson are also not included.
Mitch Clark returns to the side, hoping to make his first full appearance of the season after only lasting a few minutes in Castleford’s game against Hull in round 2. Also returning to the squad are Tuoyo Egodo and Jacques O’Neill. Calum Turner keeps his place after being added at the last minute last weekend due to Rankin’s absence.
Castleford 19-man squad: Clare, Clark, Cook, Eden, Egodo, Foster, Holmes, Maher, Massey, Mata’utia, Millington, Milner, Minikin, O’Neill, Sene-Lafao, Shenton, Trueman, Turner, Watts.
Wigan welcome back both Joe Greenwood and Taulima Tautai after both missed out last week due to suspension.
Adrian Lam’s side are missing several key men, with Tony Clubb, Sam Powell, Liam Farrell and Liam Marshall all out through injury. It is expected that Marshall and Powell should be back within the next couple of weeks though.
Wigan 19-man squad: Bullock, Burgess, Byrne, Davies, Flower, Gildart, Greenwood, Hardaker, Isa, Leuluai, Manfredi, Navarrate, O’Loughlin, Partington, Sammut, Sarginson, Shorrocks, Smithies, Williams.
HEAD TO HEAD
The stats for this game look to all be in Castleford’s favour. The Tigers have not lost at home to Wigan since 2016, when a Josh Charnley double and Matty Smith’s drop goal gave Wigan a 33-26 victory.
The sides faced off three times last season with Wigan victorious in two games, beating the Tigers 28-12 at the DW Stadium in April as well as 14-0 in October to take them through to the Grand Final. Castleford did manage to gain a 19-18 win at home last June, when both sides had to contend with players missing due to England call-ups.
Oliver Holmes (Castleford) v Joe Greenwood (Wigan)
Despite both sides having a solid set of backs and key halfbacks, the forward pack could be an even closer match-up. With Joe Greenwood back from suspension, he will be fired up to make a good impression for coach Adrian Lam. A recent call-up to the England Performance squad shows that he does have the capabilities to be a top, consistent player. It is this consistency that needs to be built up over the season to have a good chance of making Wayne Bennett’s final squad.
Oliver Holmes had similar fortunes when the squad was announced. He is part of the England Knights Performance squad but will be hoping to play well enough to make the move up to the elite side. Holmes, who returned to the Cas side a couple of weeks ago after recovering from off-season shoulder surgery, will also be hoping to impress Bennett.
There is a still a long way to go until England travel for their Winter Series but both of these players could be included if they continue to do what they do best.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Friday 5th April
Venue: The Mend-A-Hose Jungle
Referee: Chris Kendall
WHO WILL WIN?
This game could be too close to call: Castleford haven’t played well over the past two games whereas Wigan are starting to look like the Wigan of old. I think it will be a close encounter, with Castleford just about edging it for the win.