Daryl Powell has no regrets over fielding understrength team ahead of cup final

Castleford coach Daryl Powell had no regrets over his decision to field a virtual reserve team after they were crushed 70-18 at home to Salford.

Monday, 12th July 2021, 12:43 pm
Updated Monday, 12th July 2021, 12:44 pm
Daryl Powell

The Tigers boss made Saturday’s Challenge Cup final against St Helens his priority as he rested 14 members of his likely Wembley line-up and handed debuts to five 18-year-olds.

The result was a complete mis-match as the Red Devils, who themselves were down to their last 17 players, ran in 12 tries to register their biggest win of the Super League era, eclipsing their 46-0 rout of Catalans Dragons in 2019.

“We’ve a pretty big game on Saturday and there is no way I was going to put most of our players into a game six days beforehand, it doesn’t make any sense,” Powell said.

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“This game should never have been on the Sunday before a big game.

“It was a big score but it was a means to get into the cup final healthy and I thought there were a lot of positives.

“We gave up two points up by doing it but five players got an opportunity they wouldn’t otherwise have got and they learned a lot today.

“I thought the young players were great. They found it tough, which was pretty obvious.”

The youthful Tigers were led by veteran prop Grant Millington, who marked his return from a two-month injury lay-off with the game’s opening try as he boosted his chances of a first Wembley appearance.

“He was always going to be little bit rusty but he was good in the middle and he did some real smart things in the back row,” said Powell.

“I know what he is as a player. He’s an important part of the squad and he’s put himself right in there for selection.”

Prop Dan Norman, who was in the St Helens team that beat Hull in the Challenge Cup semi-final, was among the try-scorers on his Salford debut while centre Krisnan Inu kicked 11 goals from 12 attempts on his return from a two-month ban imposed for bringing the club into disrepute over a social media post.