History beckons for Castleford Tigers, but Gale eyes Grand Final

Tigers player Luke Gale.
Tigers player Luke Gale.
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CASTLEFORD TIGERS are on the verge of history, but their England scrum-half Luke Gale insists the job is only half done.

Castleford are 10 points ahead of second-placed Leeds Rhinos with five games to play and a huge points difference advantage of more than 300 ensures they will not be caught.

Top spot in the Super-8s will be mathematically guaranteed if Castleford beat visitors Wakefield Trinity in three days’ time and Gale said that is a notable achievement, but not the main prize.

“I am really pleased for the boys,” Gale stated. “We have got the chance to make history. Castleford have never won the league leaders and it would be nice to get it in our hands on Thursday, at our home ground.”

Trinity will be determined to spoil the party.

Castleford’s near-neighbours are on a high after they crushed Leeds last week and Gale added: “It was like it was meant to happen, in a home game against Wakefield.

“The boys are pumped. We have worked hard for it, but there’s still a long way to go.

“The league leaders is one thing, but we want to go all the way.

“Once we achieve the league leaders then the focus will pick up on the semi-final, the game that gets us to the Grand Final. We will just take one game at a time and look forward to this week.”

Victory on Thursday would leave Castleford with four effectively meaningless fixtures before a home play-off.

With the race for the other three semi-final places likely to go down to the wire, Castleford’s prospective semi-final and final opponents will all be playing vital, must-win games.

But Gale insisted there is no danger of Castleford taking their foot off the gas, or going into the vital knock-out fixtures under-prepared.

“I don’t think that is in Powelly’s vocabulary,” he said of coach Daryl Powell.

“It is not in his DNA; all games mean something and he instills that into us. We will be playing to win all those games.”

Castleford had to work hard for their 23-4 win at Salford Red Devils three days ago, which followed a shock home defeat by St Helens.

They led 12-0 at the interval and were put under huge pressure in the third quarter before two tries around the hour mark secured the points.

Gale said that is the sort of test they need at this stage.

“We spoke about building pressure a bit more and not going for too much,” he said. “Paul McShane said to me after the game ‘did we play too boring’? But we won 23-4.

“We didn’t, but we knew it was going to be tough and it was finals footy.

“We are pleased with how we handled it and the good thing about this team is whenever we’ve had a loss we have always backed it up with a good performance.

“We learn a lot from our losses. We were 12 unbeaten before the St Helens game and you kind of need that to give you a bit more focus.

“Losses are never bad if you are learning from them.”