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07 September 2023

Greg Eden and Castleford gear up for survival fight with ‘desperate’ Wakefield

07 September 2023

Born and raised in Castleford and experiencing the high of lifting the League Leaders’ Shield as recently as 2017, Tigers full-back Greg Eden appreciates more than most the importance of his club preserving their Betfred Super League status.

But less than 10 miles across west Yorkshire’s rhubarb triangle, passions are running equally high as Wakefield-born Mark Applegarth plots a potential great escape for Trinity, seemingly doomed after losing their first 14 games of the campaign, at the expense of their near neighbours.

The only certainties heading into the final three weeks of the regular season are that one of Castleford and Wakefield will be playing their rugby in the second-tier Championship next season – and that the pain of demotion will reverberate around their respective towns.

“It’s all on these last three games,” admitted Eden, whose hat-trick of tries in Castleford’s 28-12 win at Belle Vue last month helped put his side in pole position, two points clear heading into Friday’s pair of home games, which see Wakefield face title-chasing Catalans Dragons while Cas take on Hull FC.

“I was a Cas fan growing up and I know what it means,” added Eden. “Going into games you do carry that with you. I know what it means inside and out – Cas is a small town and everybody is talking about it, and that spurs me on personally to try to work that little bit harder.”

The Tigers’ mini-revival under new head coach Danny Ward came to crashing end in last weekend’s 66-12 defeat at Warrington, which all but erased their slender points difference advantage as well as yielding an untimely one-match ban for half-back Jacob Miller for Friday’s clash.

“It was a really tough one to take last week but we haven’t had time to mope about,” said Ward. “As you’d expect the mood in the dressing room was terrible, probably one of the worst I’ve been in.

“The lads spoke well and said the right things. But they’ve probably been in intense situations many times this year and said the right things, and it’s about backing that up and walking that walk now. We can’t be talking in the sheds after games any more.”

Trinity’s loss to Cas stalled their dramatic revival and last week’s home defeat to St Helens means Applegarth’s men remain favourites for the drop as they face a Catalans side who seemed to be headed for the League Leaders’ Shield before losing their last two games.

Ultimately if things stay the same and we don't get another win we're going down. We've got to be the most desperate team out there on the field but we've got to embrace that kind of challenge.

For the 38-year-old Applegarth, who played four seasons for his hometown club between 2004 and 2007, there is an obvious desire to steer them to the kind of escape that will eclipse all others.

“Ultimately if things stay the same and we don’t get another win we’re going down,” said Applegarth. “We’ve got to be the most desperate team out there on the field but we’ve got to embrace that challenge.

“We’re under no illusions and we’re looking forward to it. We’ve got three games now where it’s do or die and we’ll be going out there to put the things we learned from the Saints and Salford games into practice. It’s about cutting out those errors and not being the first team to crack.”

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