HULL FC’S Jamie Shaul is not exaggerating when he describes Thursday’s trip to Castleford Tigers as “massive”.
The England full-back was speaking after Friday’s bitterly-disappointing 22-12 home loss to struggling Huddersfield Giants.
If Hull had won, they would have moved into second place - for 48 hours at least - but they fell yet again at the KCOM Stadium and are now facing a battle to hold onto a top-five spot.
They now sit fifth, joint-third with Warrington Wolves and Salford Red Devils but just two points ahead of sixth-placed Castleford who have a vastly superior points difference.
With just two games of the regular season remaining - the other is at home to leaders St Helens - Hull know if they lose at Wheldon Road their play-off hopes could be hanging by a thread.
Tigers know a win will put them in pole position and Shaul conceded: “It’s massive.
“It (Wheldon Road) is a tough place to go but I could be sat here with a smile on my face next week it’s not all doom and gloom.
“We can still make that five by coming up with a performance next week.
“Luckily we still have that chance; this was a tough result and not the greatest performance but we have to put it to bed and work as hard as we can for that Thursday match.”
Hull led 12-10 early in the second period after Shaul - with his seventh try of the season - and Bureta Faraimo scored first-half converted efforts.
However, Lee Radford’s side, who had targeted second place, struggled for fluency and it was joint-bottom Huddersfield who finished stronger.
Shaul, 27, admitted: “It’s heartbreaking really.
“I just don’t think we showed enough desperation.
“There was a lot on the line and we’re just massively disappointed.
“We just couldn’t execute and they took their chances better than us.
“You could say it’s a worry (poor home form) but I’m just disappointed that there was so much at stake and we didn’t manage to take the two points.
“But we’ve got another second chance next week. Radders just tapped us all on our back and just said next week is even more important now.”