CAPTAIN MICHAEL Shenton felt Castleford Tigers were the better team for much of the second half at Wembley on Saturday, but too much damage was done before the break.
Tigers were beaten 23-10 by Leeds Rhinos in the Tetley’s Challenge Cup final, after trailing 16-4 at half-time.
And Shenton conceded: “We didn’t give ourselves a chance in the first half.
“Leeds had a plan, really stuck to it and we found it hard to get out of that rut and get ourselves going.
“We changed things around a little bit and it really worked. I think we were the better team for the majority of the second half, but there’s no excuses.
Shenton added: “We did show some quality and the effort was there, but we were not quite good enough and it’s disappointing to say that as I feel we have enough to beat them.
“It is a shame. Leeds were a better team though and there’s no qualms with that.”
Shenton said he is now determined to return to Wembley and get his hands on the famous trophy.
He stated: “It has been a special week and I’m so proud to have been a part of it and to lead the boys was a great moment for me.
“I want more of it now. The hunger to get more of this and do ourselves better justice is right there.”
Prop Nathan Massey also felt Rhinos were worthy winners.
“Full credit to Leeds,” he said. “They probably beat us in every area and we let ourselves down a bit.
“They were too good for us. Maybe the occasion got to us a little bit, but I don’t want to take anything away from Leeds.
“They outplayed us and they thoroughly deserved that win.”
It was second-row Weller Hauraki’s second Challenge Cup final defeat, after he played for Leeds in their 2011 loss to Wigan Warriors.
“It’s heartbreaking,” he said. “It is not a good thing, Leeds have been through it that many times and they didn’t want to go through it again.
“That’s why they won, they wanted it more.
“We had to do too much work in the first half.
“We needed to complete our sets and put the ball where we wanted it and we weren’t doing that.
“It just wasn’t our day, but we have got to move on.
“We have got another competition to concentrate on and we talked about that in the sheds afterwards.
“We have got to keep our heads up and train hard and look forward to that.”