CASTLEFORD Tigers’ Lee Jewitt chose his words a little more carefully than his coach.
Daryl Powell lambasted match official Ben Thaler for his performance in Thursday night’s highly-entertaining but equally contentious 33-26 home loss to Wigan Warriors.
The Castleford chief was incensed by the manner in which the Grand Final referee spoke to his players at times and some of the calls he made as the Super League fixture eventually slipped away from them.
“He got dropped after he refereed us in Catalans and, if I drop a player as many times as referees get dropped, I’d probably be getting rid of him at the end of the year,” said Powell.
“There was some unacceptable stuff. I’ll get fined for this but respect works both ways and players need respect in the way you speak to them.
“The way he was talking to players is unacceptable. The referee lost his cool completely. I haven’t complained for over a year about a referee but I’m at the end of my tether.”
Certain Castleford players were at the end of their tether, too, after a series of baffling decisions.
But Jewitt, the Tigers’ industrious loose-forward, had a knowing smile when asked about them.
“We played well – really well – to be fair but just didn’t quite get any luck going our way,” he told The Yorkshire Post after a game which continually simmered, unsurprisingly given Wigan’s niggling tactics.
“I don’t like blaming anyone but we didn’t get the rub of the green and a lot went against us, which didn’t help. We played some outstanding rugby, though, and, while we’re very frustrated as a team, we’ll take more positives than negatives out of that match.”
Castleford, who remain in seventh after failing to secure a fourth successive win, certainly muscled up against the visiting pack.
“It was my kind of game,” admitted 29-year-old Jewitt, who started his career at Wigan.
“They’ll come down the middle at you, they have some big blokes and it was up to us forwards to stand up to that and get over them. I honestly thought we did that.
“You know what you’re going to get with Wigan and it’s about going one better. You have to take it to them and I thought we did that well.
“We were ruthless as a pack. We probably didn’t start the second half as well as we could but, overall, I thought we handled them well.”
Castleford, with winger Denny Solomona and full-back Luke Dorn dazzling again, had hoped to close the gap to fourth-placed Wigan to just three points.
Nevertheless, despite the defeat, Jewitt is still confident they will secure a top-four finish – and also prosper to the Challenge Cup semi-finals.
“I look at our own performance and see a side that is still playing well,” he said.
“We’re in there and just need to tighten up a few things.
“We’ve got them again in a couple of weeks (in the Cup) and I’m sure we’ll go there with a lot of intent and get that job done.”
Before that, they head to Huddersfield Giants on Friday and Jewitt – the former Salford forward who joined from French club Limoux in 2014 – said: “They’ll be the same again – a big forward pack – so it’s another challenge for us.
“If we stick in there and get on top, we have some backs who are capable of real magic – they have so much skill and strike.
“It makes their job a lot easier if we can get on top in the middle and that’s the aim.”
Jewitt will emigrate to Australia at the end of the season, joining North Queensland side Townsville Blackhawks.
He said: “I’ve loved my time here and I want to finish off on a high.
“I want this club to lift some silverware and I think we can.
“I’ve had some niggling injuries – which is always a nightmare – but am over them now and getting a run of games so am looking for a strong finish.”