Castleford Tigers forward Matt Cook has described tonight’s First Utility Super League game at Salford as a must-win for his side.
Victory would clinch a top eight place for the Tigers if Salford do not get more than two points back when their appeal over their penalty deduction is heard. It would also revive top four hopes.
“I think Salford is pretty much a must-win game in all aspects and in terms of getting things back on the positive,” said Cook.
“We’ve had a couple of losses now on the bounce and need to get some wins to keep us secure in the top eight and then to start clawing back some points to keep in touching distance with that top four.
“You get to a point where every week is a must-win game, but that’s how this year’s Super League has been. You lose a couple of games and you are out of the fold, you win a couple and you are right back up there.
“We know we’ve got to start performing and we’re confident we can start doing that.
“We’ve shown glimpses of it throughout the season. Magic Weekend for instance. We know we’ve got a good team, a good squad that can do anything on the day, we’ve got to get it consistent and we’ve got to start doing it now.”
A big gap has opened up behind the current top four in Super League, but Cook reckons that there are enough games left for the Tigers to still close it.
He said: “It’s definitely not over. But we have to go on a run pretty soon to make it realistic.
“It’s a big challenge as there’s nine points between us and fourth, but it’s doable and from games so far this season you’ve seen that anything can happen.
“We’ve got to make sure we believe in ourselves, give it our all and fix little things that have not gone too well for us, some of it in our defence. We just need more consistency with it.”
Cook expects to face a stiff challenge from Salford.
He added: “They’re a good team and they’re still challenging the six points they lost so you never know they could end up getting them back.
“If they got them back that would sit them one point behind us so we’ve got to go into the game against them mindful of that.
“We need a win to make sure we have a bit of a gap on them if they did get the points back.
“They’ve been a bit like us I suppose through the season, a bit hit and miss, but they’re a very good side and it’s one-all between us so far this year.
“They beat us in the league here, which hurt us pride-wise. We beat them in the Challenge Cup, but that’s gone now and they still have the two points.
“We know it’s going to be a big, tough game, but we need to win, get the two points and do a job.”
Like everyone at Cas, Cook was disappointed at the way they went out of the Challenge Cup at Wigan.
He said: “We did have a real good dig in the second half and we threw a fair bit at them. All credit to Wigan, they defended really well, they scrambled really well and deserved the win on the day. They took every opportunity they got.
“It was good how we responded in the second half, but it was the quarter-final of the cup and we needed to be at our best right from kick-off.
“It’s disappointing to be out of the cup, but we can now refocus on the Super League and getting some runs on the board, seeing if we can push towards the top four. The belief in the camp is still good.
“We know we can get points in a game against teams, but we need to make sure we tighten up our defence and we are working hard on that in training.”