Huddersfield Giants boss Rick Stone says they have plenty to play for despite being all but out of the race for the top four.
Friday’s 24-16 home defeat to League Leaders Shield winners Castleford Tigers leaves only mathematics keeping the Giants alive with three matches still to play.
The first of those is at Salford Red Devils on Saturday (1.30).
“I’m a bit disappointed for the boys,” said Stone, who was able to welcome back club captain Leroy Cudjoe.
“We didn’t manage the second half as well as we could have but Castleford are a quality opposition and, against the better teams, you have to play to your potential.
“It’s hard to keep playing your best every week and the boys have worked hard to get in a position where a top-four place was a possibility.
“We still have a lot to play for – for our own pride and for our fans – so we will still turn up and give 100 per cent every week until the end of the season.
“They (Castleford) had a couple of key players out and it’s going to take a couple of good performances to roll them.”
Daryl Powell said competition within his squad is hotting up and keeping Castleford motivated after watching his side come from behind to win at the John Smith’s Stadium.
Jy Hitchcox, Larne Patrick, Gadwin Springer, Matt Cook and Kevin Larroyer were all recalled in place of Andy Lynch, Mike McMeeken, Grant Millington, Oliver Holmes and Greg Minikin.
“They all did pretty well,” said Powell. “There is competition for places all over the place.
“Alex Foster was superb, the guys in the middle – Larne and Gadwin – did some good things, while Cooky did pretty well having to start in the pack after we did a reshuffle, so the competition for places is there.
“Kevin Larroyer did a bit at the end and people are fighting for spots as there’s a lot of pride in there.
“I’m working towards getting our best team together (for the play-offs) but I won’t rest people for the sake of it.
“Whoever we play against (in their home semi-final) it’s important that we have momentum, as we know whoever finishes fourth - whether it’s Wakefield, Wigan or St Helens - will have that.”
Jake Webster, on his 200th appearance in the British game, opened the scoring and further Tigers tries followed from Ben Roberts, Greg Eden - his 36th of the season - and Luke Gale, whose four goals helped take him over the 300-point mark for the campaign.
The Giants replied through Oliver Roberts and Paul Clough to hold a 12-6 half-time lead before Darnell McIntosh grabbed a late consolation.