Castleford Tigers wary of Leeds Rhinos threat, boss Craig Lingard urges side to enjoy defence over attack

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Don’t be surprised if Castleford Tigers celebrate more when they stop Leeds Rhinos crossing their line on Saturday than after touching down themselves.

Tigers coach Craig Lingard has urged his improving side to relish preventing tries more than scoring them. After three wins and a draw from their last six games, Lingard refused to say Castleford have turned a corner, but believes they are beginning to see some “green shoots”.

He said: “Confidence is growing in the team and we are scoring a few more points now, but it’s the other side of the game - the defensive side. We don’t want to be winning games 30-28 or losing by 40 or 50 points; we have got to back our D [defence] and start enjoying the defensive side of the game more than the attacking side.

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“We have got to enjoy preventing a try more than scoring one. As long as our defence is good, we are pretty happy with where our attack is at the minute.”

Castleford Tigers coach Craig Lingard celebrates last week's win over Hull FC. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.Castleford Tigers coach Craig Lingard celebrates last week's win over Hull FC. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.
Castleford Tigers coach Craig Lingard celebrates last week's win over Hull FC. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

That said, Tigers dominated the first half of their 26-6 home loss to Leeds at Easter, but failed to score and were overrun after the break. Lingard stressed: “We have got to make sure this time if we have that amount of ball we are clinical and score more points, which generally over the last month we have done.”

Rhinos’ form has nosedived since the previous meeting and assessing Saturday’s opposition, Lingard conceded: “It’s a difficult one with the expectation around Leeds. You look at where they are in the table and they are a couple of wins off the top-four.

“Points-wise it doesn’t look too bad, but I guess expectation-wise it’s different. There’s always high expectations at Leeds, whether that’s the fans, the players or the coaching staff. They will be expecting a lot more, potentially, than they’ve got so far so we will be expecting the best Leeds Rhinos after their second half performance [against St Helens] last week.

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Jason Qareqare celebrates with Castleford Tigers teammates after touching down against Hull FC last week. Coach Craig Lingard wants his side to enjoy preventing tries more than scoring them. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.Jason Qareqare celebrates with Castleford Tigers teammates after touching down against Hull FC last week. Coach Craig Lingard wants his side to enjoy preventing tries more than scoring them. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.
Jason Qareqare celebrates with Castleford Tigers teammates after touching down against Hull FC last week. Coach Craig Lingard wants his side to enjoy preventing tries more than scoring them. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

They’ve identified that clearly wasn’t good enough for their standards so we will be expecting a bit of a reaction from them. We are fully prepared for that and hopefully we can maintain a bit of consistency and continuity from our performance last week against Hull, or the first 65 minutes of it.”

Rhinos are a difficult team to prepare for, Lingard admitted. He added: “They play a different kind of rugby to what you normally find. You might get a kick over the top to the wing from within their own 20, or a 20-40 or something completely different.

“We’ve spoken to all our players and said you’ve got to be on it every single play, 100 per cent of the time. Even in the games they’ve lost, there’s been big moments where if one pass sticks or a decision’s the correct one it could potentially win them the game.

“At the moment these big decisions or big events in games are costing them a little bit. Teams they are playing are really clinical and, as we’ve found out, if you make an error or judgement or skill you are going to get punished. That’s what’s happening with Leeds at the minute.”

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