DEFEAT TO his hometown club and an error-ridden team performance were not how Brett Ferres wanted to celebrate his 300th career appearance.
Ferres reached the personal milestone when Leeds Rhinos were beaten 23-12 by Castleford Tigers at Headingley three days ago.
It was Rhinos’ seventh loss of the Betfred Super League season and their third to Castleford and, as a result, Leeds slipped a place to fourth in the table, eight points behind the league leaders.
Leeds went into the game with high hopes of avenging their 66-10 drubbing at the Jungle in March and last month’s 29-18 Magic Weekend defeat, but a succession of errors meant they were unable to apply pressure to Tigers, who were backing up from a Ladbrokes Challenge Cup defeat at Hull five days earlier.
Ferres is in no doubt about where Rhinos went wrong. He said: “It’s nice reaching personal milestones, but it certainly wasn’t the performance we wanted as a club.
“It was disappointing, we just didn’t look after the ball and a good side like Cas will capitalise on that.
We’ve shown in big spells we are good enough, we just never respected the ball and obviously you can’t score points without having the ballLeeds Rhinos’ Brett Ferres
“We showed no respect for the ball, made too many errors and didn’t handle the conditions. That’s what happens when you play a bit dumb. It was certainly a tough one to take.
“There were a lot of mistakes getting up playing the ball and things like that and we made it tough for ourselves.
“We never won that collision and made it easy for ourselves in the tackles.”
Rhinos led 6-0 early on, but Castleford hit back to go in at half-time with a two-point lead.
As in the sides’ previous meeting, Tigers came out strongly in the first half and took the game away from Leeds, whose two tries both came as a direct result of Castleford mistakes.
Tigers are on a seven-game winning run against Leeds and have not lost in their last five visits to Headingley.
Despite that Ferres reckons Rhinos are capable of turning the tables when it matters in the big games later in the year.
The teams will meet at least once more in the Super-8s and – were the situation on the league league ladder to remain as it is – are on course for a play-offs semi-final showdown at Wheldon Road, Castleford, in three months’ time.
“I think we can [beat them],” Ferres said.
“We’ve shown in big spells we are good enough, we just never respected the ball and obviously you can’t score points without having the ball. I think we did a great job in defence; we worked tirelessly especially in the middle.
“We covered some kilometres there and did a lot of effort.”
The Leeds forward added: “But obviously effort and desire doesn’t score points for you sometimes.”
Rhinos are back in home action on Thursday against sixth-placed St Helens.
“They snuck a win over Salford on Friday so that puts a bit more pressure on,” Ferres said.
“We’ve got to dust ourselves off and have a good week in training and go again.
“We have come back pretty well from defeats this year and that’s what we’ve got to do again.”
The defeat by Tigers was Ferres’ 37th game for Leeds, who he joined in 2016. He was previously with Huddersfield Giants (77 games, 2012-2015), Castleford (89 games, 2009-2012), Wakefield Trinity (41 games, 2007-2008) and Bradford Bulls (39 games, 2005-2006) and has also played 17 times for England (2006 and 2013-2015).
“I have got a fair few games left in me,” he said. “Unfortunately I’ve missed a lot through injury – and a fair few through suspension as well.
“There’s a lot left in the tank. I am only 31, I have a couple of years left at Leeds and I want to kick on.
“As long as the body’s going all right I’ll carry on.”