THERE WERE no complaints from coach Daryl Powell after Castleford Tigers fell at their first hurdle in the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup.
Tigers’ hopes of a first Wembley appearance since 2014 were ended by a 36-18 sixth round defeat to St Helens in front of the BBC television cameras at the Jungle.
It was a day short of a year since Castleford had thrashed Saints 53-10 at the same stage of the competition, but the visitors are a different proposition this season and Tigers failed to get to grips with them after the break.
Powell admitted Saints, who are top of Betfred Super League, were too good for his side in the second half.
“I thought in the first half there wasn’t much in it,” reflected Powell. “Two breakaway tries were the difference at half-time.
“I don’t think we really got a cutting edge in attacking positions, but I thought we defended really well. We shut [Ben] Barba down on pretty much everything. He got some little bits down the middle that we covered up, but we started the second half really poorly.”
Trailing 12-0 at the interval, Tigers allowed the second half kick-off to bounce dead in goal and though they survived from the drop out, Saints scored after the home team turned the ball over in their own territory on 42 minutes.
“We never really got going, I thought,” said Powell of his team’s effort in the final 40 minutes
“Our ability to sustain pressure on St Helens was non-existant.
“When the game broke up, the quality that Barba’s got shone. When your middle unit starts to fatigue and when you’re not putting pressure on the opposition that can happen.
“He ripped us apart. I don’t think we are durable enough. We weren’t durable enough over 80 minutes. You can’t do 40, or 50 or 60 against the better teams because they are going to beat you. That’s happening to us at the moment.”
Tigers were without Ben Roberts and Luke Gale due to injury and Powell admitted: “We are lacking a little bit of a cutting edge, with the way our injuries have gone, in attacking positions. They are a good side and if you’re not outstanding defensively for pretty much the whole game they find something on you.”