THE initial pain hurt considerably but there is no long-term damage to Wakefield Trinity as they prepare to redouble their semi-finals bid after Thursday’s setback against St Helens.
The West Yorkshire club saw a fine opportunity to strengthen their top-four credentials disappear in dramatic circumstances after conceding a sloppy try in the 78th minute of their Super 8s tie at Belle Vue.
It meant struggling Saints – who had trailed for most of the encounter – somehow escaped with an 18-16 win, leaving Chris Chester’s side with work still to be done.
However, while many onlookers thought the agonising defeat could spell an end to those hopes of getting to within 80 minutes of Old Trafford, second-row Matty Ashurst insisted otherwise even though the 2017 surprise package were initially “devastated”.
He said: “We are gutted – results are big at this stage – but we are not out of it yet. We have got two big games left, two cup finals really, to try and crack that top-four still and that’s what we’ll try to do.
“It is always a case of proving people wrong at Wakefield.
“We’ve always had belief in the group about what we could do; it has been a good year, but we don’t want to let it slip now.
“We have put in all this hard work to get where we are so we want to have a real crack at these semi-finals.”
Trinity, looking for their highest finish of the summer era, visit Hull next Thursday and then complete their Super 8s campaign at home to Wigan Warriors.
Crucially, both opponents are still vying for a semi-final spot, too, so it is a fascinating prospect.
Ashurst, 27, admitted: “I think we will have to win both to guarantee us a place but it is in our own hands.
“We have got to go to Hull next week, which will be another tough game, but we have got to take some positives from the way we performed (against Saints)and hopefully take them into next week and get that result.”
It demonstrates how far Trinity have progressed that just two years ago they needed to beat Bradford Bulls in the Million Pound Game to avoid relegation but are now challenging like this.
“When you are disappointed about losing to a team like Saints, in the last minute, it shows we have come a long way this year,” added the former Salford player.
“We have done a lot of hard work and we’ll continue that.
“We’ll come back into training on Sunday and start getting ready for Hull; we know what we have to do to start putting things right.”