• August 4, 2021

Exclusive: Challenge Cup final 2021: Castleford Tigers head coach Daryl Powell hails ‘champion player’ Niall Evalds | Rugby League News

 Exclusive: Challenge Cup final 2021: Castleford Tigers head coach Daryl Powell hails ‘champion player’ Niall Evalds | Rugby League News


Castleford full-back Evalds joined a select group of players to be named Lance Todd Trophy winner despite finishing on the losing team. “He’s a champion player and I thought he was superb,” head coach Powell said

Last Updated: 17/07/21 8:47pm

Castleford's Niall Evalds was awarded this year's Lance Todd Trophy

Castleford’s Niall Evalds was awarded this year’s Lance Todd Trophy

Daryl Powell believes Niall Evalds still has plenty more to come after the Castleford Tigers full-back was named player of the match in their Challenge Cup final defeat to St Helens.

Evalds became only the fifth player to be awarded the Lance Todd Trophy despite finishing on the losing team, joining the illustrious names of Frank Whitcombe, Robbie Paul, Gary Connolly and Kevin Sinfield.

That will have come as scant consolation for the 27-year-old, who was also on the losing team in last year’s final with Salford Red Devils, but Castleford head coach Powell is in no doubt Evalds will continue to flourish at the club.

Saints claim Challenge Cup glory

A comeback from St Helens saw them win the Challenge Cup for the first time in 13 years by beating Castleford 26-12.

“He’s been a great signing by the club and to retain him was a great piece of business,” Powell said of Evalds, who extended his initial one-year deal with the Tigers for at least another two seasons in May.

“He’s class, he’s so quick and elusive, and I think he’s learning and growing in the game. His game is getting better and he just needs to do that consistently now. He’s a champion player and I thought he was superb.

“I think that shows how well we attacked at times – we created so many opportunities, we got Niall away a few times, but their scramble defence was great. If you look at how many points they concede in Super League, they take some breaking down.”

The 26-12 loss to St Helens is Powell’s third defeat in a showpiece event with the Tigers, having seen his side beaten by Leeds Rhinos in both the 2014 Challenge Cup final and the 2017 Super League Grand Final too.

I’m super proud of the players, they’ve put everything into that, and it didn’t quite happen in the end.

Castleford head coach Daryl Powell

The Warrington Wolves-bound boss was full of praise for the efforts of his team but was left to rue their failure to build on leading 12-6 at half-time.

“I’m proud of the boys,” Powell said. “We haven’t been able to convert in the finals and we had a good opportunity today but couldn’t quite convert.

“But I’m super proud of the players, they’ve put everything into that, and it didn’t quite happen in the end.

“I thought Saints deserved to win, we weren’t good enough in the second half and I’ve got no complaints, but I’m super-proud of the players.”

Castleford's players were left dejected at full-time

Castleford’s players were left dejected at full-time

The try from James Roby three minutes into the second half proved contentious too, with the video referee eventually awarding it after a lengthy review and questions over whether Regan Grace was in touch in his efforts to keep the ball in play.

But, ultimately, Powell felt his side should take responsibility for not dealing with certain facets of the game well enough and praised Saints for their defensive work which kept Cas at bay.

“It’s disappointing, but I’m proud we’ve got here, and we had a real go,” Powell said. “Physically, we put ourselves on the line and they just got us defensively.

“When I thought we had really good field position, they defended phenomenally well and their scramble was great, and we lacked some composure and didn’t really kick the ball.

“I’m disappointed with quite a few parts of our game but going out in the second half six points up and giving it away so quickly had a big part to play.”





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