Trinity boss Richard Agar isn’t reading too much into successive losses for Castleford ahead of Sunday’s Magic Weekend meeting.
The two sides go into the match on form that goes against the season as a whole so far with the Wildcats picking up two wins after a run of six defeats and the Tigers suffering two losses after a start to the season that has seen them in the top four for most of the year.
The Wildcats have already gone head-to-head with their local rivals on Good Friday where new signing Richard Owen scored a brace in a win for his former club. Agar believes that Castleford are far from a side in a particularly poor run of form.
“I think their performance against Leeds wouldn’t suggest to me they’re in any sort of slump,” he told Peter Smith of the Yorkshire Evening Post at the Magic Weekend media launch in Manchester.
“On the back of a four-day turnaround against a quality team who have put plenty of teams to the sword this year, I thought they played really well.
“They’re a good team. They’re our rivals and it’s obviously a big derby game but I’ve got a lot of admiration for what they’ve achieved so far this season. The signs were there for them at the back end of last year. Their style of football and their middle in particular have been a key to their success.
“They pass the ball really well and it allows them to play with great width and allows the half-backs to get on with some other jobs and provide threat across the field. I think you can see the confidence oozing through the team.
“Throw a couple of game breakers in there such as Darryl Clark and Justin Carney and they’ve put together a team and a style that really suits them.”
For Trinity themselves, Sunday will provide another opportunity to test their progress against one of the form teams in the first half of the campaign. After bringing to an end the unbeaten home record of Widnes Vikings, the challenge of taking on Castleford Tigers will be just as testing.
However, Agar is confident his side are heading in the right direction and must continue to uphold their levels of effort that have shown a notable improvement during the past month.
“We had a non event at Hull KR but playing Leeds twice was difficult for us,” conceded Agar.
“We were patching people up and in the first game our effort wasn’t great but for the two weeks after our effort was better. But it did knock us about a bit. We’ve seen gradual improvement in the games since then, even in the game against Castleford which we lost and fell apart a bit late on.
“We’ve seen gradual improvement in areas and gradually stringing it together for longer periods. We still need to be a bit better with the ball in the final third but part of that is that we’ve got eight or nine blokes that didn’t do a pre-season with us. So we’ve patiently understood that we will evolve and get better but we needed to underpin that with some more solid efforts which I think we’ve done.”
You can listen to Agar’s full interview with Peter Smith from Monday’s media launch on the Wildcats Audioboo channel.