MATCH WINNER Luke Gale reckons the dramatic last-gasp victory over Wakefield Trinity was more evidence Castleford Tigers are a “special team”.
Gale was more disappointed than delighted after his 78th minute drop goal snatched a 25-24 win for Tigers who had trailed 16-0 at half-time.
He felt the performance was below-par, but saluted Tigers’ never-say-die spirit.
“You can take positives and you can take a lot of negatives as well,” said the England half-back and leading Man of Steel contender.
“We were poor in the first half and you’ve got to give credit to Wakey. They started better than us and they were probably the better team, to be honest.
“We spoke at half-time - pretty serious words - and the self-belief we showed to come back was pretty special. Special teams do that and I think we’ve got one here.”
The one-point win at Wakefield came six days after a victory by two points over Hull. It was the sort of close encounter Tigers can expect when it comes to the big games at the end of the year, Gale reckons.
“At the business end of the season I don’t think it’s going to be 50-point wins,” he predicted. “It’s going to be tough games. I would prefer it to be a bit more comfortable and a bit easier than that, but we will take it.”
The big games keep coming for Tigers who are at home to Salford Red Devils - who began Betfred Super League round 21 in second place - next Friday. Salford won 13-12 when the teams met at AJ Bell Stadium in March and Gale admitted Tigers are now the team everybody wants to beat.
“Powelly [coach Daryl Powell] mentioned that after the [Thursday’s] game,” Gale said. “We are on a 10-game winning streak and everyone’s aspirations are higher because they want to beat you and knock you off. We have got to match that. Big games are coming thick and fast and it is tough because teams are coming after us. We are not starting great, but it is where we we want to be.
“We are 10 points clear at the top, but we are going to have to be better than we were [against Wakefield] because people want to knock us off our perch.”
Tigers have built a reputation as a side who do that to other teams - for example beating Leeds Rhinos twice at Headingley during their treble-winning campaign in 2015. Now the boot is on the other foot and Gale said: “We speak about this quite often - the motivation is a lot higher for teams because they want to beat the top team and we are the top team this year.
“It is role reversal, but we are learning every week - that is one thing we are doing. We are going through some tough, tight games and they are the ones you remember.
“It’s not the 50-4 games you remember, you remember the close ones and what the boys did on Thursday was pretty special.”
Meanwhile, Tigers forward Adam Milner described Trinity’s pitch as “absolutely shocking” on social media, after suffering an ankle injury which led to him leaving the ground on crutches.