AFTER A bitterly disappointing end to their season, pack star Jesse Sene-Lefao says Castleford Tigers will have extra motivation to come back stronger next year.
Tigers were left to reflect on what might have been following a 14-0 defeat at Wigan Warriors in a Betfred Super League semi-final three days ago.
The knockout blow came two days short of a year since Tigers’ under-performed in their Grand Final loss to Leeds Rhinos.
“That’s two years in a row we’ve played really bad in our last game,” Sene-Lefao said.
“It is going to be a fire in our belly to do well next year.”
Despite falling at the penultimate hurdle, Sene-Lefao reckons 2018 has been a “massive, massive year for our club”.
They finished third in the table and he said: “We lost a lot of players [to injury], we were counting on our back-up players to perform, they did so and we still came in the top-four.
“That is a learning curve for us.”
Wigan had won all seven of their fixtures in the Super-8s and their defence was too strong for a Castleford team who failed to score in their final two games of the campaign.
Sene-Lefao insisted Tigers had anticipated a much better performance in their biggest game of the season and admitted they needed to be at their best to win at Wigan.
“It was not what we expected,” conceded the New Zealand-born forward. “We didn’t play our best, but Wigan played really well.
“If you do that against quality teams they make you pay and that’s exactly what happened.”
Tigers were 7-0 adrift at the break after an error-ridden first half. Sene-Lefao added: “We gave them the ball too easily.
“We didn’t really apply pressure enough for them to actually struggle a bit.
“We gave them the ball back on play two and play one and when you do that against a quality side like Wigan they punish you.
“We talk about nine out of 10 performances from our whole squad and I don’t think we ticked that box, but certainly next year that is something we have got to work on and also tweak our game just to be ready for big games like Friday’s.”