Powell: We've surprised ourselves
Castleford Tigers coach Daryl Powell admits his team have surpassed his own expectations so far this season but now wants them to make the most of their blazing start to the 2014 First Utility Super League.
The Tigers' last-gasp win over champions Wigan Warriors last Sunday enabled them to match their previous best start to a Super League season in 2011 when they won their first four matches.
Victory over Hull FC, in front of what is expected to be another bumper crowd at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle, tomorrow would take Powell's men into uncharted waters.
"There's obviously a feel-good factor about the place at the moment," Powell said. "We've got to put that behind us now.
"We're four games in. We've broken the season down into small blocks and that's the first block out of the way.
"I would probably have been happy with three wins so to get four is an added bonus.
"We need to refocus now and make sure we continue in the same manner."
With a host of new signings, allied to the departure of Rangi Chase, Castleford were something of an unknown quantity at the start of the season but the secret is now well and truly out.
A mobile, industrious pack has laid the platform for new half-backs Liam Finn and Marc Sneyd to carve opposition defences to shreds and Powell admits he may have to make adjustments to his side's style of play in order to keep their opponents guessing.
"When you are doing well, teams start to look at what you're doing and try to nullify it," Powell said.
"We're aware of that so we need to keep tweaking our game and make ourselves difficult to play against.
"We're not going to win every game - we know that - but, if we win the battle every game, then I will be happy."
Hull coach Lee Radford, whose side returned to winning ways at the expense of Bradford Bulls a week ago, is looking forward to another raucous occasion at the Jungle.
"I honestly can't wait for this game," Radford said. "I love the ground, love Castleford, love playing there and love watching rugby there.
"There's a really close atmosphere to the pitch and they're obviously bouncing at the moment.
"We've got a lot of West Yorkshire lads in the squad and they're saying they've never seen so many Cas shirts around the town."
Bradford have another chance to wipe out their points deduction when they take on Huddersfield Giants at the Provident Stadium.
The Bulls completed the double over the table-topping Giants in 2013 but Paul Anderson's men showed signs of returning to form in last week's 12-12 draw with Leeds Rhinos and he is confident they can continue their improvement.
"We've got to do it better and improve again from last week," Anderson said. "This time of year is about improving every week. We want to be continuously building."
Bradford, who hope to have new owners next week, have lost the services of two of their loan players, Anthony Mullally and Greg Burke, and will go into the game as underdogs.
"It is going to be another tough test for us," coach Francis Cummins said. "Huddersfield are showing glimpses of what they are capable of but they haven't found top gear just yet. Hopefully they won't find it for another week."