DEFEATED CHALLENGE Cup finalists Castleford Tigers need to regroup and come back stronger, coach Daryl Powell said after their Wembley disappointment.
Powell admitted Tigers were second best to Leeds Rhinos in the club’s first Challenge Cup decider for 22 years, but stressed how they respond is what matters now.
“Tough lessons,” said the coach following the 23-10 defeat. “The main thing is where we go from here because the game’s gone.
“It’s done and dusted. There’s a winner and loser in every final and the challenge now for both teams is how do you go on from here?
“On both sides of the coin you can get rattled. For us it is really important we stick together and stay tight and we continue the good work.
“We need to regroup and create a focus for ourselves.”
Powell felt there was no problem with Tigers’ preparation and he said: “What we’ve got to learn is why, as a group and individuals, we didn’t deliver our best performance.
“I think our best performance would have made it a pretty tight game. Individual players have got to learn from the experience.
“As coaches you are always learning. There’s quite a lot of things we need to learn and a lot of that comes from watching the game again, reflecting on what’s happened and making sure we glean as much from it as we possibly can.”
Rhinos dominated the first half to lead 16-4 at half-time, but Tigers gave them some scares after the break and Leeds didn’t seal the game until Danny McGuire landed a drop goal with four minutes left.
Of Tigers’ second half performance, Powell said: “I thought we responded well.
“We recognised there was a fair old challenge to us laid down in the first half by Leeds.
“I don’t think we coped with it particularly well, to be honest, but I did think we showed a lot of courage and determination in the second half.
“But our game was never quite good enough to be able to score enough points to put Leeds under the intense pressure we needed to.
“That was disappointing. The first half was really disappointing, we never really got to grips with the game and I thought Leeds were very good.
“Their kicking game was excellent, they really challenged us in certain areas and our response wasn’t really good enough.”
Powell added: “At half-time I thought we needed to change our mindset. We got rattled, there’s no question.
“I thought Leeds were excellent, they were too quick for us and they were playing in all the right areas.
“We were strangled a bit by that and we needed to find a way to play slightly differently. It was a challenge for us to change our mentality and a little bit of the way we were playing.
“We really weren’t making any headway, but we changed a bit and I thought we found some tempo at the start of the second half, which got us better field position.
“But even when we were in good field position our game was just off. There wasn’t the same fluency and sometimes that comes because the energy battle’s being won by the opposition.
“I thought that happened quite a lot. We lost the energy battle and then when you come to your fluency with attack, sometimes it’s not quite there.
“As a result we just didn’t have our sharpness.”
Powell reckoned his side “didn’t get a lot going our way” and he admitted: “We couldn’t quite get a break in the game.
“Sometimes it falls like that. There was a couple of 50-50s, referee-wise, which you always get and they fell against us.
“Plus some of the bounce of the ball.
“It was just one of those games, Leeds were very good, we weren’t on our game and the breaks fell against us a little bit.”
Powell substituted stand-off Marc Sneyd, who has been one of Tigers’ most influential players this season, midway through the first half.
He explained: “I thought he started really poorly.
“He wasn’t on his game, but he was much better when he came back on.”