LEEDS RHINOS will have to be “miles better” when they take on Castleford Tigers in two days’ time, Carl Ablett says.
Successive defeats - including a 46-16 drubbing at Catalans Dragon last Saturday - have left Rhinos clinging to top spot in the First Utility Super-8s on points difference ahead of Wigan Warriors.
Tigers, who have had two extra days to rest and prepare, are out of the race for a semi-final place, but Ablett reckons they will fully motivated to wreck Rhinos’ hopes of claiming the league leaders’ shield.
“I am sure they will fancy it,” Ablett said. “Whenever we play Cas’ they get up for it – it’s their big game.
“We’ve only got a short turn-around, but we know what to do to recover. We are not inexperienced in this.
“We will do everything we can to make sure we are in peak condition for Thursday, because I am sure it will be a tough, intense, physical game.
“They have got nothing to play for, but that probably makes them more dangerous. They are going to come and have a real go.
“We saw on Saturday that a team that has nothing to play for can still be dangerous. We will have to be good, miles better than we were at the weekend.”
Assessing what went wrong in Perpignan, Ablett said: “It was tough from the start.
“I don’t think we started great, but we gave them a bit of impetus and they are a good team and they play with the ball a bit.
“Some things came off for them and I think you have to put it down as just one of those days.
“We have to put it behind us, recover and then we are back out there on Thursday.
“It’s probably a good thing it’s a short turnaround, we get straight back out there and have another shot at it.”
Rhinos were on a seven-game winning run before St Helens beat them a week after the Challenge Cup final.
That loss and Saturday’s defeat have sparked fears Rhinos are heading for a post-Wembley collapse similar to last season, when they lost their final four matches, but Ablett insisted “It’s not all doom and gloom. It’s not like we aren’t going to get into the top-four.
“Our destiny is still in our own hands.
“Our points difference is better by 60 and if we win our next two games we are going to finish top.
“We need to get back to winning ways and we just need a performance. We all need to get back to where we were a couple of weeks ago, with everyone buying in and doing the things we need to do that get you those wins. It’s no good worrying about it, we know we are a good team, we just need to do some things better.”