Huddersfield Giants hopes in the Super 8s are virtually over after defeat at home to the class act of Super League 2017, Castleford Tigers.
The Giants were shown exactly what they are missing as the Tigers produced a cutting edge that made all the difference.
In reality, there was not too much to choose between the sides, but when opportunities presented themselves Castleford never turned them down.
This was a decent display by a Rick Stone Giants side who are beginning to evolve, but are unlikely to find enough in away trips to Salford Red Devils and St Helens, or a home finale against Leeds Rhinos, to book a top-four slot.
Club captain Leroy Cudjoe returned at centre after an ankle injury and was joined in the starting line-up by second rower Oliver Roberts, the Irish international having missed the 46-18 win at Hull FC with a leg injury.
Also back in was ex-New Zealand international prop Sam Rapira, who was on the bench, following a rib injury.
Half-back Danny Brough and centre Jordan Turner, who were carrying knocks from that win, were both fit to start.
After a cagey opening, it was the visitors who took control.
The League Leaders Shield winners went ahead on 14 minutes when centre Jake Webster made the most of pressure on the right to touch down, and Luke Gale added the goal.
But from that point on the home side pushed their way back into the contest and, six minutes later, it was second-row Roberts who powered his way over after good build-up, but Brough was unable to level the scores as he missed the kick.
The Giants kept up the pressure and, with minutes to go to half time, took the lead when Paul Clough pounced on a mistake by ex-Giant Greg Eden to score.
And Jordan Rankin, who has just signed a three-year deal at the club, added the goal.
On the stroke of half time, Rankin was on target again as Adam Milner took out Giants hooker Kruise Leeming. A penalty was awarded and the home full-back put over the kick for a 12-6 half-time lead.
The balance changed in the second period as Tigers head coach Daryl Powell’s team took charge.
Six minutes into the half Ben Roberts produced an exciting solo finish to drag the Tigers within two points of the hosts, and Gale made it two from two and levelled the scores.
On 53 minutes the Tigers went ahead as the ball was moved rapidly across to the right hand side of the home defence and Eden had the pace to undo his former colleagues.
Gale was on target again and repeated the dose on 65 minutes after Eden’s breakaway paved the way for Gale to cut in and score a fine try.
Three minutes from time, Gale attempted to add to his tally with a drop goal that he sent wide.
But the Giants at least had the last say as young winger Darnell McIntosh ended a neat move with a try in the corner, but Rankin was unable to add the kick, leaving the Giants eight points adrift of the table-toppers.