ENGLAND SCRUM-HALF Luke Gale expects Castleford Tigers to treat Saturday’s fixture at Catalans Dragons as a must-win game, despite their eight-point lead on the Betfred Super League table.
There is nothing at stake for Catalans, who will finish 10th whatever happens in this weekend’s final round and are preparing for a relegation battle in the Qualifiers when points will be reset to zero.
But, with league results carrying over into the Super-8s, Tigers have an opportunity to move a step closer to a place in the play-offs.
Depending on other results, a win could leave them needing just one point to ensure a top-four finish in the Super-8s and therefore a place in the semi-finals.
Cas have the following weekend off and Gale expects coach Daryl Powell to field his strongest-available team. He predicted: “I don’t know if he will rest anyone, but my thoughts are he won’t rest anyone and he’ll go all guns blazing. We have a good chance to finish off what has been an awesome 23 rounds.”
Tigers will also be looking to improve on their performance in last Friday’s 38-14 home win over third-placed Salford Red Devils.
“It was a bit scratchy,” Gale said. “There was a few errors and I think that was true of the Thursday night game [between Wigan Warriors and Warrington Wolves] as well.
“We’re getting to a point in the season where teams have the bigger picture to think about and I do feel some of the games lose their intensity.
“I’ve watched a couple of games recently where that’s been the case – you have a bigger picture in your mind and it is bound to happen.”
Despite that, the win over Salford has added to Tigers’ confidence ahead of the Super-8s.
Salford went into the game as the only top-flight team Cas had not beaten this year and Gale said: “There was a bit of revenge in there.
“You don’t think of it too much, but it does still stick in your mind the way you got beaten in previous games.
“We’re unbeaten at home, too, and we wanted to maintain that, so it was great to do that for the full regular season. It was not the best of games, but I was just glad to get the two points really.”
Gale admitted winger Greg Eden’s shoulder injury, which could end his season, “took the gloss off” last week’s result.
“I’m gutted for him really,” he said.
“I’m not sure how long he’ll be out, but he had the chance to break the [club and Super League try scoring] record so I am sad for him.”