2020 Review: Castleford Tigers

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Andrew Ferguson's Super League review series of all clubs' 2020 campaigns continues - today it's the Castleford Tigers.

The Tigers season started out well as they picked up early wins over heavyweights Wigan and St.Helens to sit in 4th place when the game went into lockdown. Sadly for Castleford though, their season went south fast after the resumption, as they scored just two wins, which saw them slip out of the top 4, then they went into freefall, first out of finals contention and then further south towards the bottom 4.

For a team that had spent all of their previous 6 seasons sitting firmly in the top 6, 2020 came as quite a shock to see the club have its worst season ever under coach Daryl Powell.

Yet despite the sharp downturn in form, Castleford were far from easy beats. 6 of their last 9 losses for the season were by 10 points or less, giving them plenty to work from for next season.

Turning Point

Lockdown. When the game went into lockdown, Castleford had 4 wins and 2 losses (1 of which was by just 1 point), but after the game resumed, they had just 2 wins from 10 games. There were no dramatic squad changes to explain the change in form, but for some reason, nothing clicked at all and they hobbled out of finals contention.

What Worked

Defence - Despite winning 6 of 16 games, Castleford's defence finished up being ranked 6th in the Super League, just 12 points shy of 5th place. Rebuilding a team around a strong defence is not such an arduous task and will mean that the Tigers are every chance of returning to the finals in 2021.

What Didn't Work

Scoring tries. While their defence wasn't the worst in 2020 (it was 4th worst), the side struggled to find a regular go-to player to get across the stripe. They had just 7 players score 3 tries or more, with only Huddersfield fairing worse (they had 6)

Best Player

Paul McShane had arguably his best season, which saw him pick up the Man of Steel award and was also duly rewarded as Castleford's only player in the Super League Dream Team. The skilful rake has quickly become a fan favourite and widely regarded as the club's best player in their current squad.

Rookies

Castleford gave 5 players their Super League debuts in 2020. Bailey Hodgson (fullback) and Bradley Martin (Bench) played their first and only game against Hull KR, while Sam Hall appeared in Castleford's win over Wigan at the start of the year, winger Bradley Graham played against Hull FC and fellow wing man Jack Sanderson played in 3 games, scoring a try on debut.

Looking Ahead

Castleford have made some astute tweaks to their roster for 2021. Niall Evalds is a big addition while Jordan Turner will improve the side's depth, as will his Giants team mate Suaia Matagi who will be on loan to the Tigers. Lewis Bienek from Hull FC will also move to Castleford.

The club has lost Mike McMeeken to Catalans and have let Junior Moors go. Bailey Hodgson, Lewis Carr, Calum Turner and Matt Cook are also all departing, taking up places in Championship sides next year.

These changes look to be all about improving the top tier of players which might be enough to see them jump back up into finals contention again in 2021.

2020 results

RoundDateOppositionResultScoreCoachCaptainVenue
SL R2Feb 7thWiganW16 - 12PowellShentonMend-A-Hose
SL R3Feb 15thCatalansL18 - 36PowellShentonGilbert Brutus
SL R4Feb 21stWakefieldW32 - 15PowellShentonMend-A-Hose
SL R5Feb 27thHull KRW28 -  8PowellShentonKCOM Craven
SL R6Mar 6thWarringtonL 8 -  9PowellShentonHalliwell Jones
SL R7Mar 15thSt HelensW28 - 14PowellShentonMend-A-Hose
SL R8Aug 8thCatalansL14 - 40PowellShentonEmerald Headingley
SL R9Aug 16thSt HelensL 0 - 10PowellShentonTotally Wicked
SL R18Aug 30thWiganL22 - 30PowellShentonHalliwell Jones
SL R11Sep 3rdSalfordW37 - 30PowellShentonEmerald Headingley
SL R12Sep 10thWarringtonL10 - 12PowellShentonTotally Wicked
CC 6RSep 13thHull FCL16 - 29PowellShentonTotally Wicked
SL R13Sep 24thHuddersfieldL19 - 31PowellShentonHalliwell Jones
SL R14Oct 1stHull FCL28 - 32PowellShentonMend-A-Hose
SL R15Oct 18thHull FCL 6 - 48PowellShentonKCOM Stadium
SL R17Oct 22ndHull KRW38 - 24PowellShentonTotally Wicked
SL R18Oct 26thLeedsL24 - 28PowellMcShaneEmerald Headingley