FOURTH is still the target for Castleford Tigers, but boss Daryl Powell admits they need to win their final two games of the regular season.
Tigers began First Utility Super League round 22 in fifth spot in the table, behind fourth-placed Huddersfield Giants on points difference.
Qualification for the Super-8s is already guaranteed, but Tigers are chasing a top-four place and four home games in the new-style play-offs.
Finishing fifth or lower would mean only three additional games at the Jungle and Powell said Tigers can’t afford any more slip-ups following last Sunday’s 21-18 setback at Hull.
That ended a run of five straight wins and Powell – whose team visit Wakefield Trinity Wildcats on Sunday – said: “It was a big game for us – we could have gone clear in fourth, but we didn’t take that opportunity. We have got to use that disappointment to motivate us for the next couple of games. This one is certainly dangerous and we need to play well.”
Powell added: “Fourth is still there for us, but we need to win both our remaining games. Huddersfield go to Catalans [tomorrow] which is always a tough trip, but we have got to look after ourselves and get our job done. It [fourth] was in our hands and now it’s not, but we’ve still got to perform well each week and this is a big game.”
Wildcats won at the Jungle in Super League round one and Powell has seen clear signs of improvement in the five games since Brian Smith took over as coach.
“I think everybody expected them to pick up,” he said. “He’s an experienced coach and it looks like he has released the shackles on a couple of players.
“Look at the way Jacob Miller’s playing, you could see a change straight away in him and he’s a bit of a catalyst for them. It will be a challenge, it’s away and it’s a local derby and we know it’s going to be a tough game, but we have got our own motivation after last week.
“We have got to get back to our standards. We were way off them last week, particularly in the second half.”
Powell is looking for an improved attitude from his players. He said: “Whether there was a mental knock-off after winning five straight is difficult to know, but one thing’s for sure – we need to be better this week or we will get beaten.”