CASTLEFORD Tigers’ opening defeat in the Betfred Super-8s will be a valuable lesson for the big games to come, hooker Paul McShane predicts.
The table-toppers suffered their first league loss in 13 matches – since a 26-24 reverse at Hull on April 23 – when they were beaten 26-12 by St Helens at the Jungle last night.
That ended a home winning sequence stretching back more than a year, but McShane admitted they were second-best on the night and he reckons it could prove a blessing in disguise.
Tigers went into the game with a 10-point lead on the table and knowing a win would secure at least second place and a home semi-final.
Saints’ performance proved every fixture in the final portion of the season will be a challenge and McShane said: “We see it as a new competition now and every team we come up against is a tough team to play.
“We just fell short. We made a few errors and a few knock-ons which we didn’t need, but hopefully we can kick on next week against Salford.”
Tigers failed to score in the first half and managed only two tries despite applying huge pressure for long spells .
“Their D [defence] was outstanding,” McShane added.
“Their scramble D especially, working hard from the inside, meant we couldn’t really get around them, but it’s how we play.
“We just need to tinker with it and hopefully next week it will come off.
“We will learn from it, 100 per cent. You need to be playing like you are playing in a final every week now.
“I think Saints did that better than us and they came out with the win.”
Next week’s trip to AJ Bell Stadium – where Tigers suffered their first defeat of the year, five months ago – will be another big test.
Salford have slipped down the table in recent weeks and were booted out of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup at the semi-final stage by Wigan Warriors, but McShane warned: “They are still a quality side. They have some real quality in their squad and we can’t take anything for granted.
“They beat us at their place at the start of this year so hopefully we can go over there and get back to winning ways.”