Points For: 645
Points Against: 702
Home Record: W4 L9
Away Record (including Magic weekend): W10 L4
Longest Winning Streak: 4
Longest Losing Streak: 5
Top Points Scorer: Kirk Dixon (170)
Top Try Scorer: Kirk Dixon (17)
Top Tackler: Joe Westerman (728)
A season that should be judged as successful ended with a bitter twinge, but overall Castleford had a year of real progress. The bottom side twelve months ago, the Tigers forced their way into the top half of the table this year and into the playoffs, where they narrowly lost their elimination game to Wigan. Although they weren’t the most consistent side, they did play with a real sense of exuberance when they were on form, and their crop of young players meshed well with some wily veterans to create a side that was entertaining to watch (if a little inconsistent).
The young guns all kicked on this year, all except for possibly the brightest potential star. Joe Westerman didn’t quite reach the heights he achieved last year, although he did more than his fair share of tackling in the middle of the park. But Michael Shenton pushed on towards international honours, Kirk Dixon and Richard Owen also both reminded everyone that there’s more to the Cas production line than the main two (Owen should consider himself disappointed not to at least get a call up to the England train-on squad). The veterans also helped out as well, with Brent Sherwin proving himself an adept on-field general, and Dean Widders
The Tigers’ main problem this season was consistency. In fact, their own real consistent spells (good and bad) followed each other. They also seemed unable to beat the truly elite sides, indeed usually losing to them quite heavily. This led to the absolute nadir this season, a 76-12 thrashing at Leeds which was the highest points total conceded by any side this year. It’s a credit to the Cas side that they won three of their next four games (and only losing the game to Wigan by three points).
So at least now the Cas youngsters have some more experience, and now have a taste of playoff football that I expect they’ll want to get back there next season. It appears that Terry Matterson is hoping for a bit of stability next year, and that his players will kick on even further. I think they’re a front-line prop or two from getting much higher up the table (although Craig Huby’s progressed this year, so maybe he’ll turn into that) but with a young talented squad and an open approach to playing the game, I wouldn’t bet against classy Cas finding a way to get to the playoffs again next year.