The Ultimate Local Derby


Each side will be desperate to stay in Super League, particularly with an estimated £1m in TV money and sponsorship at stake; and even more so with plans afoot to pull up the draw-bridge between Super League and the National Leagues.

Cas were relegated two years ago after an inexplicably poor season, a year in which the final nail in their coffin came at the hands of Wakefield; and having made a swift return to the top flight will be anxious to avoid the stigma of being a yo-yo team.

Wakefield have never been relegated from Super League but have finished one place above the relegation zone on several occasions and another last-gasp escape will be high on their agenda.

The Wildcats have looked ever more likely to beat the drop since John Kear took the helm and lead his side to three victories from the last five games – the most outstanding the 20-12 win over Bradford Bulls last weekend.

The Tigers, however, have looked the opposite – a win over Harlequins last month seemingly securing their Super League status, but five losses in six games steering them back towards eleventh place; the most recent a 26-16 loss at Salford City Reds.

Both sides have said they will keep a full-time squad if relegated – Tigers chief executive Richard Wright claiming that Castleford will "remain a Super League club in all but name" to boost their possible promotion push or franchise bid.

"Circumstances are very different this time around” he continued, “and we will continue investing in the business to ensure whatever happens this weekend, we will be in a position to take our rightful place in Super League come 2009.”

Wright’s opposite number Steve Ferres paid tribute to the efforts of Kear and his players in bringing the club into a position where they can stay in the top flight.

"Full credit must go to John and the players for what they have achieved so far, and I still think there is more to come" he said.

"It's the ultimate local derby because of what is at stake – it's a shame one of the clubs has to suffer, hopefully it won't be us."

Even after the game the situation will not be settled unequivocally – should the ineligible teams Whitehaven, Rochdale Hornets or Batley Bulldogs lift the NL1 championship then both sides will stay up.

But at the moment that will be cold comfort to Castleford and Wakefield – they just want to win and put this season behind them.

by Tony Williams