CASTLEFORD TIGERS are out but not down after their Ladbrokes Challenge Cup exit.
Stand-off Jamie Ellis admits the 36-18 defeat to St Helens was disappointing, but he reckons Tigers were closer to the Betfred Super League leaders than the scoreline suggests.
“I think it was a good effort from the team,” said Ellis.
“I think we were the better team in the first half, but there were a few breakaway tries and they got away from us.
“It was a good effort, but we are disappointed with the result.”
Though Tigers scored three tries in the second half, Saints were more clinical on attack and Ellis admitted that is something Castleford need to work on ahead of Saturday’s Magic Weekend derby against Leeds Rhinos in Newcastle.
“We were scrappy with the ball, especially in the first half and I don’t think our kicking game was too good,” he reflected..
“That’s probably my fault, so it’s something to work on. We are out of the Cup now and that’s disappointing, but we have to keep improving.”
Tigers are fifth in Super League, but have games in hand on the teams above them.
They play Saints again after facing Leeds and Ellis predicted: “It is a big month coming up for us now.
“We’ve got a big game on Saturday and we need to stick in it, especially with these injuries we’ve got.
“If we keep going and we’re in that top-four come the back end of the season when we get players back, we will give it our best.”
Ben Roberts, Greg Eden, Luke Gale and Nathan Massey are all on Tigers’ injury list and Ellis admitted that is “not ideal”.
But he stressed: “We have got the quality in this side.
“We could have won that game [last Saturday] if the bounce of the ball went our way and we were a bit better in parts.
“Everyone’s doing their jobs, we’ve just got to be a bit better.”
With Gale sidelined by a fractured kneecap, Ellis has an opportunity to establish himself in the starting side.
He is in his second spell at Castleford and was signed in the closed season after helping Hull KR win promotion from the Championship last year.
“Obviously I am enjoying the game time,” he said.
“I want to be playing every week.
“I need to get some consistency, keep working on my game.
“I was disappointed a bit [last week], but I’ll keep working hard in training and, hopefully, it will come.”
It is a step up from the second tier, but Ellis stressed: “I have played Super League before and I know what it’s all about. I’ll keep working on combinations. It is hard when Galey’s out and Ben Roberts, but I’ve got Paul McShane and Jake Trueman to keep working with and, hopefully, we’ll do better than we did [on Saturday].
“It is a massive game this week. We need the two points.
“Leeds have been playing pretty well. We just beat them at Elland Road last time and they are always decent games.
“We are going to train hard this week and, hopefully, get the two points.”