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Powell hopes to silence critics
Castleford coach Daryl Powell is hoping his side's 16-4 demolition of Tetley's Challenge Cup holders Wigan on their own turf will silence the doubters once and for all.
The previously unfancied Tigers are third in Super League after winning 11 of their first 15 matches and, after putting out the holders in Saturday's cup quarter-final, are now just 80 minutes away from their first Wembley final since 1992.
Wigan coach Shaun Wane had accused the Yorkshiremen of "disrespect" in the build-up to Saturday's game but the Tigers had every right to feel confident after winning their last two matches against the Warriors and they were good value for the hat-trick.
"We were superb today," Powell said. "It's obviously a pretty big win and for me as well. We haven't won anything yet so we don't want to get too carried away but I think it just cements us as a genuine team.
"There's been a fair bit of doubt about that from some people and I think that is what I'm most pleased about."
Castleford dominated the first half at the DW Stadium but their only try in the opening period came from winger James Clare and they were forced to withstand a tremendous onslaught from the holders early in the second half.
Their defence stood firm until England forward Liam Farrell went over on 62 minutes but Wigan still trailed after Matty Smith failed to convert and the visitors pulled away to add further tries in last 11 minutes through winger Kirk Dixon and former Wigan prop Lee Jewitt.
"The missed goalkick gave us that little bit of breathing space and we responded pretty well," Powell said.
"I was a little bit concerned but, when we got in good field position, we were creating opportunities.
"I thought we were really unlucky in the first half. We attacked superbly when we got in good field position and I thought we deserved to have been further ahead.
"We knew Wigan would come hard at us in the second half and I don't think we dealt with it all that well.
"I don't think we played very well in the second half but t hat defensive rearguard effort is one of the best I've ever seen. We had the kitchen sink and fair few fridges and utensils and all sorts thrown at us.
"I thought it was an immense effort in the second half - I've just said to them 'I don't know how you've done that!'
"I thought we deserved to win. We've got to come back here next Friday which will be interesting."
It was Wigan's first home defeat in the Challenge Cup since Castleford won 10-2 in the quarter-finals of 1986 on their way to lifting the trophy at Wembley, but coach Shaun Wane had no complaints over the result.
"I am devastated because we're not going to go to Wembley," Wane said. "We played dumb. We went away from what we talked about in the week in the first half and we had too much to fix but I don't want to take anything away from Castleford.
"It was a fair result, the best team won. They controlled the ruck far better than we did and the desire they showed early in the second half when we put them under the pump was fantastic.
"We need to regroup for when they come back here on Friday."