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28 Sep 2017 by TSZ

Castleford Tigers vs St Helens Semi-Final Preview

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The Lowdown

CASTLEFORD TIGERS

  • An under-strength Castleford side went down to a heavy defeat at home to Hull FC but all eyes now turn to the semi-final in which the Tigers will be hoping to reach the Grand Final for the first time.
  • As expected, Daryl Powell makes a raft of changes following last week's heavy defeat where he rested many of his star players. Zak Hardaker, Michael Shenton, Junior Moors, Grant Millington, Nathan Massey and Adam Milner all return to the squad along with Luke Gale who faces a late fitness test following appendix surgery.
  • Castleford will feel confident heading into this game after their form throughout the entire season. They only lost five out of their 30 league games and have won 17 of their last 19 in the league.

Head Coach: Daryl Powell

Squad: Matt Cook, Greg Eden, Alex Foster, Luke Gale, Zak Hardaker, Andy Lynch, Nathan Massey, Mike McMeeken, Paul McShane, Grant Millington, Adam Milner, Greg Minikin, Junior Moors, Joel Monaghan, Ben Roberts, Jesse Sene-Lefao, Michael Shenton, Gadwin Springer, Jake Webster

Unavailable: Oliver Holmes, Jy Hitchcox

ST HELENS

  • St Helens secured their place in the top four with a comfortable victory over 12-man Salford. Saints didn't have it all their own way but wore down a tiring defence to secure the win they needed.
  • Justin Holbrook has named the same 19-man squad for the third week running after wins over Huddersfield and Salford with the same 17 likely to take the field as last week.
  • Saints have a good record against Castleford having won 18 of the last 21 meetings between the two sides in all competitions although they've only won two of the four times they've already met this season.

Head Coach: Justin Holbrook

Squad: Kyle Amor, Ben Barba, Luke Douglas, Theo Fages, Regan Grace, Morgan Knowles, Jonny Lomax, Tommy Makinson, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Ryan Morgan, Mark Percival, Dominique Peyroux, Danny Richardson, James Roby, Matty Smith, Zeb Taia, Luke Thompson, Alex Walmsley, Jon Wilkin

Unavailable: Tommy Lee, Adam Swift, Jake Spedding, Matty Lees

  • Castleford boasted the best attack during the 30 rounds of the season, scoring 965 points (166 tries). They come up against a St Helens side that ended with the stingiest defence, conceding 518 points (86 tries).
  • If St Helens do have a slight defensive weakness, it comes in their LW zone where they have conceded 25.6% of their tries this season. Castleford’s RW zone has accounted for 30.1% of their total tries scored this season so this could be an area they look to exploit.
  • Castleford’s attacking prowess is there for all to see as they ended the season with the highest number of tries in both the LW (54) and RW (50) zones as well as having the joint-highest number in the LC zone (32).
  • St Helens prefer attacking on their left edge; their LW and LC zones account for 59.3% of their total tries scored this season, with the RW and RC zones combining for just 24.8%.

Analysis - what to expect
The first semi-final sees the side that have dominated the league through the entire season come up against a side in St Helens that only made it into the top four at the last minute. Having languished beneath the top four all season, Saints' late season form saw them qualify in fourth spot and they will be hoping their previous experience in big games can see them through. However, Castleford were the best side in the league by a distance over the course of the season and home advantage could play a huge role here. This should be a thrilling contest but Castleford get the nod to reach their first Grand Final.

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