Castleford Tigers boss Danny Ward confessed to “mixed emotions” as his side saw safety from the drop despite their 48-6 hammering to Wigan at the DW Stadium.
Wakefield’s dramatic golden point defeat to Challenge Cup winners Leigh ensured safety for Ward’s side, with four points separating the teams on the table with now just one regular season game left.
Gareth O’Brien’s late drop-goal secured a play-off spot for the Leopards, but in doing so the 31-year-old handed relegation to Trinity, having also kicked Salford to safety and relegating Hull KR back in 2016.
It ends Wakefield’s 24-year stay in Super League, with Mark Applegarth’s outfit now preparing for life in the Championship for 2024. Promotion and relegation is set to be scrapped and a new grading system to determine places from 2025 under new IMG guidelines.
Ward, who was relegated with London Broncos in 2019, paid tribute to Wakefield following their heartbreaking loss, while admitting he was ‘buzzing’ for his side’s loyal supporters.
The 43-year-old coach also bemoaned his side’s performance against Super League leaders Wigan, with Abbas Miski scoring five of the Warriors’ 10 tries. Jason Qareqare scoring Castleford’s only four-pointer of the tie.
Danny Ward: A lot of sympathy goes to Wakefield
“I have a lot of mixed emotions,” Ward said. “A lot of sympathy goes to Wakefield and all the people involved in the club.
“It’s a tough place to be and I feel for them. I’m kind of gutted for Wakefield, but I’m happy for Castleford, the town and the fans. We found out the position from the Cas fans who stayed behind the sticks.
“I’m buzzing for them and what it means and avoiding potential disaster for the community at Cas.
“I am sure it has been great entertainment value for everyone and we are in the entertainment business, but that’s not how I see the game progressing. But that’s another conversation.
“I am disappointed with the performance. I thought we prepped well and we knew the areas we needed to be good at and we didn’t execute that.
“Real mixed emotions. Yes I’m happy, but are we celebrating 11th place? That’s not good enough and the lads know that. We have a long way to go and we’ve been taught a bit of a lesson by Wigan tonight.”