Castleford-born and raised Tigers full-back Greg Eden only caught the pinnacle of winning the League Leaders’ Shield in 2017 and knows more than most the importance of his club maintaining their status in the Betfred Super League.
But less than 10 miles beyond West Yorkshire’s Rhubarb Triangle, passions are just as high as Wakefield-born Mark Applegarth plots a possible big way out for Trinity, seemingly doomed after losing the first 14 games of the campaign at the expense of their nearest neighbors is condemned.
The only certainties going into the final three weeks of the regular season are that Castleford and Wakefield will play their rugby in the second tier league next season – and that the pain of demotion will linger in their respective cities.
“Those last three games are what count,” admitted Eden, whose hat-trick in Castleford’s 28-12 win at Belle Vue last month helped put his side in pole position by two points going into Friday’s two home games came Watch Wakefield take on the title-chasing Catalans Dragons while Cas takes on Hull FC.
“Growing up I was a Cas fan and I know what that means,” Eden added. “When you go into games, you carry that with you. I know what it means inside and out – Cas is a small town and everyone is talking about it and that personally spurs me on to try and work that little bit harder.”
The Tigers’ mini-revival under new head coach Danny Ward ended with last weekend’s 66-12 loss at Warrington, which nearly erased their tenuous points advantage and resulted in an early one-game suspension for center back Jacob Miller for the game on Friday.
“It was really tough last week, but we didn’t have time to brood,” Ward said. “As you’d expect, the mood in the dressing room was terrible, probably one of the worst I’ve ever experienced.
“The boys spoke well and said the right things. But they’ve probably been in difficult situations a lot this year and said the right things, and now it’s a matter of affirming that and going down that path. We can’t talk in the shed after the games.”
Trinity’s defeat by Cas brought their dramatic run to a halt, and last week’s home loss to St Helens means Applegarth’s men remain favorites from relegation as they take on a Catalan side en route to becoming League Leaders ‘ Shield seemed to be before they lost their last two games.
For 38-year-old Applegarth, who played for his hometown club for four seasons between 2004 and 2007, there is clearly a desire to give them an exit that eclipses all others.
“Ultimately, if things stay the same and we don’t get another win, we will perish,” Applegarth said. “We have to be the most desperate team out there on the field but we have to rise to this challenge.
“We’re under no illusions and we’re looking forward to it. We now have three life-or-death games ahead of us and we’ll go out there and put into practice what we’ve learned from the Saints and Salford games. It’s about eradicating those mistakes and not being the first team to make a mistake.”