BIG FORWARD Jesse Sene-Lefao reckons Castleford Tigers have to be smarter in close games.
Tigers dropped out of the Betfred Super League play-off places after a 27-26 extra-time defeat at second-bottom Hull KR on Sunday.
The table is so tight Tigers are only four points behind third-placed Hull, but Sene-Lefao says more composure is needed if they are going to climb the ladder and then achieve anything in the play-offs.
“Our goal now is to get into the top-five and play some consistent footy for the next two months,” said the front-rower.
“I think we played some good footy [on Sunday], but desperation-wise they just beat us.
“There wasn’t much between us, but it is just game management – we have got to be smarter.
“Some of their tries were length-of-field tries, tries off kicks – it is our fault, but they played well and sometimes you can’t stop teams when they play well.”
In a see-sawing encounter, Tigers hit back from 12-0 down after just 13 minutes to lead 26-14 early in the second half.
They were in control at that stage, but failed to drive home their advantage and former Castleford player Ben Crooks scored back-to-back tries around the hour mark to level matters before Danny McGuire booted the winning drop goal early in golden-point extra-time. Sene-Lefao said: “It’s not exactly what we expected to happen, but they play well at home, they were desperate to win and they were better than us.
“We had opportunities to close the game off, but we just came up with errors when we should have been looking to complete and kick deep, which is what good teams do.
“Even right at the end, the golden point, I think we managed that pretty poorly.
“There were times before the golden point when we should have taken shots, but we tried to run.
“It is hard to train for stuff like that because you try to win games comfortably.”
Both teams went into the game with something to play for, Tigers to get back into play-offs contention and Rovers battling against relegation.
Castleford had won their previous two games and began the weekend in fifth place, but to rub salt into their wound, other results went against them with their closest rivals all winning.
Hull and Catalans Dragons picked up victories on Friday and Saturday respectively and are now fourth and fifth, two points clear of Tigers.
Salford Red Devils’ big success at London Broncos two days ago lifted them to sixth, one place above Castleford on points difference.
Though St Helens have been confirmed as league leaders with five games remaining, everyone else has something to play for – either qualification or a high finish in the top-five, or battling against the drop.
“Knowing the last team is going to get relegated makes teams [near the bottom] more desperate,” Sene-Lefao observed.
“All the teams we are playing are around the bottom, so they are all fighting hard to win.
“We have got London [on Saturday] and we’ve all seen what they can do and who they can knock off.
“For us we have just got to be ready, day by day keep learning and make sure we don’t make the same mistakes.”