UNSUNG HERO Adam Milner has played down his role in Castleford Tigers reaching Old Trafford for the first time – and heaped all the praise on cool boot Luke Gale.
Scrum-half Gale landed five goals from as many attempts – including an equalising penalty after the hooter at the end of 80 minutes – and then landed the match-winning one-pointer in golden point extra-time.
Milner also had a big impact on Tigers’ 23-22 win over St Helens, making a vital try-saving tackle on Tommy Makinson seconds before touching down at the other end.
Gale’s heroics came just 16 days after he underwent surgery to remove his appendix and Milner said: “He has got nerves of steel, first to get us the two points to square it and then to nudge the drop goal.
“His first [drop goal] attempt wasn’t too far away from about 40 out and he then got the second.
“His skill sets to kick a ball are something special. Matty Smith [Saints’ scrum-half] as well has it in him and there’s some good kickers out there, but I’m glad we have Luke Gale in this side as he is a quality player.”
Of his own contribution, the loose-forward insisted: “I just think that’s my job.
“Galey got the man of the match but me, him and Paul McShane go for coffees on a morning, me and Macca look like we’ve been hit by a bus and then Galey comes with a spring in his step saying he’s ready to play tomorrow.
“We look at each other, me and Macca, thinking ‘is he all right him? How can he get man of the match?’.
“But I’d sooner have him in the team than not him and he deserves all the accolades he has got.”
Tigers were one kick away from their season ending in heartbreak.
The Betfred Super League leaders – who finished 17 points ahead of Saints in the table – led 8-0 early on and 20-10 deep into the second half, but the visitors rallied with three tries including one two minutes from time which edged them 22-20 in front.
But Mark Percival failed to convert any of those – managing just one goal from five attempts – and Tigers were awarded a penalty after getting the ball back from a short restart.
Milner described the dramatic finish as “unbelievable”.
He said: “Two minutes from time I was thinking that’s my dream over and the team’s dream over after what we’ve built since Powelly [coach Daryl Powell] has been here.
“But someone – I’m not sure who – said ‘come on we’ve been in this situation with Saints before.’ I think it was a couple of years ago when Benny Roberts got a drop goal down here.
“We’ve got belief in this team and while it was nail-biting for everyone watching, we managed to get the job done and now we’re 80 minutes away from lifting some silverware at Old Trafford – which gives me goosebumps saying that.
“It will be the highlight of many of our careers and we’re looking to do something special now.”
Milner added: “They don’t come around often trips to Old Trafford. We nearly lost it on Thursday and that would have been season over, but we have a special group here fighting for everything.
“It will be a special occasion for everyone involved with Cas and as a local boy it’s a special moment for myself as well.”