Castleford Tigers v Leeds Rhinos: We’ve got something to build on says James Bentley

SECOND-ROWER JAMES Bentley could achieve two firsts when Leeds Rhinos visit Castleford Tigers tomorrow.

By Peter Smith
Sunday, 17th April 2022, 4:54 pm

The former St Helens man has never previously played at the Jungle and is hoping to sing Rhinos’ victory song for the first time, at the sixth attempt.

Bentley and his team-mates were warming up their tonsils last Thursday when Rhinos led Huddersfield Giants 20-10 with two minutes left of the 80, but the visitors scored back-to-back tries to salvage a draw.

That was a kick in the teeth for Leeds, who then had to endure 10 scoreless minutes of extra-time at the start of the Easter fixture pile-up.

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Leeds Rhinos' James Bentley is held by Huddersfield's Danny Levi and Chris McQueen. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.

But there were positive signs in Rhinos’ performance and Bentley reckons it gave them something to build on tomorrow.

Two points is the most important item on the agenda, but Rhinos also have an opportunity to prove they are a much better team than the one beaten 40-16 by Tigers in a Betfred Challenge Cup tie at Headingley less than four weeks ago.

Rhinos trailed 28-0 at half-time and it will be a long afternoon for them if they produce a similar performance today.

Bentley, though, reckons the Easter Betfred Super League derby can highlight how much progress has been made under interim-coach Jamie Jones-Buchanan.

Huddersfield's Theo Fages is tackled by Leeds Rhinos' James Bentley. Picture: Alex Whitehead/

The Cup tie was his first game in charge and Bentley admitted: “We were miles off, terrible, but the last few weeks, I think we have made massive improvements as a group and we are going in the right direction.

“We just need to get a win and get a bit of confidence behind us.

“Playing with confidence is massive, I have been there and it is a lot different.

“There’s a lot of pressure at the minute, but I think we are making improvements and getting there.”

The point against Huddersfield was only the third Rhinos have collected this year, but Bentley felt the performance as a whole was encouraging.

“It was disappointing, but if you look at the bigger picture, we have improved a lot over the past few weeks,” he added.

“We were so close, but it wasn’t good enough in the end, unfortunately.

“We have got to get up for Monday, we have an opportunity to go to Cas and get the two points which is what we need at the minute.

“We improved [on Thursday] and came away with a point, but it’s still disappointing we didn’t get two.

“Up 10 points with two minutes to go, we need to learn games in those positions and close it out.

“It is a big learning curve for us, understanding we don’t need to come up with anything special.

“When we are in front we just need to stick to our processes and do the simple stuff, turn over the ball in corners.

“We just need to learn from it and start winning.”

Rhinos face a crucial game against Toulouse Olympique – the only team below them in the table – at Headingley on Friday, but Bentley stressed they can’t look beyond tomorrow.

“I think we have just got to take it one game at a time,” he warned.

“We have a quick turnaround to Cas and we have an opportunity to go there and get the two points.

“We didn’t want extra-time [against Giants], but we put ourselves in that position, we have to deal with it and move on.

“We can’t do anything about it now, we just have to make sure we have a good recovery and everyone rips in on Monday.”

Bentley, a lifelong Leeds fan, is relishing renewing what is now Rhinos’ fiercest local rivalry.

He was part of the beaten team in last month’s Cup tie, but playing at the Jungle will be a new experience.

“I’ve never played there, not even for Saints,” he said.

“It’s the first time so I am looking forward to it.

“It should be a good game and I think we’ve a lot to improve on.

“We showed a lot of good improvements [on Thursday], but it wasn’t enough.”