Powell praises in-form Clark
Castleford coach Daryl Powell hailed Daryl Clark as "the perfect rugby league player" after the hooker scored a hat-trick of tries in the 40-20 win over Widnes.
The 21-year-old enhanced his growing reputation by starring for the Tigers in front of the Sky Sports cameras on Thursday night, his treble helping his side move up to third in the Super League table.
Clark has been named in England coach Steve McNamara's training squad, and his club boss has backed him to win international honours in the end-of-season Four Nations Series.
"He's got ability, pace, strength and toughness, he's the perfect rugby league player," Powell said.
"He's got that bit of class about him that can trouble the Australians. They don't know much about him. He's played some special games this year."
Such was Clark's display that Widnes coach Denis Betts admitted the player is pushing hard to leap above rivals, St Helens' James Roby and Michael McIlorum of Wigan, to get the no 9 shirt for his country.
"You'd have to put him up there with the best on his form this year," Betts said. "It's hard to go beyond the experience and mental toughness of both Roby and McIlorum but he's really doing a job there."
The final scoreline suggested a comfortable night for Castleford but they were actually put under serious pressure after taking an early 18-0 lead at the Select Security Stadium.
Widnes' Patrick Ah Van cut the gap to six points early in the second half and the winger then looked to have scored again with an intercept try, only for the long-range effort to be ruled out for offside.
"We're not quite on our game at the moment but a couple of individual touches there were outstanding," Powell said after seeing his team pull clear in a final quarter that included two solo efforts from Clark.
"Obviously we got a pretty good start but we wanted to play the rest of the game like we did in the first few minutes, we were just too frantic and put ourselves under a bit of pressure.
"Credit to Widnes who really came after us physically and rattled us in the middle of the field. It was a good battle there. It was a twitchy game and a tough battle and obviously we're really pleased to win it."
Betts had no complaints over the disallowed try and was encouraged by aspects of his side's performance.
"I don't think it was a try," Betts said. "I didn't see it on the TV but I'd have to go with the linesman. Robert Hicks was in a good position and he's there to make those decisions.
"I'm really proud of some of the things we did tonight. Our energy and our effort was outstanding at times.
"We handled it poorly at the start. We wanted to do things on the front foot and they were smart.
"We were chasing 18 points before we knew what we were doing. Once we got in the game I thought it was an even contest. I think it was a closer game than the scoreline suggests."