FRUSTRATED Luke Dorn admits Castleford Tigers’ defensive frailties have cost them a shot at Old Trafford.
The club’s hopes of finishing in the top four were ended on Thursday night as they fell 42-38 at home to Super League champions St Helens.
As ever, scoring points has not been an issue, demonstrated by Dorn, the Australian full-back who scored two stylish first-half tries as Castleford fought back from 18-0 down to lead 24-18 early in the second period.
“It was another dramatic night and we do love bit of that down at The Jungle,” he told The Yorkshire Post, as Tigers almost clinched victory at the end. “We certainly make it entertaining but entertainment doesn’t get you top-four if you defend like we did and leak that many points.
“All year we’ve had too many little periods of maybe 10 minutes in a half where instead of that just being a poor period where we might concede 10 and score six, we concede 18 or 20 points or three tries back-to-back.
“We just can’t seem to stem the flow which is disappointing as we speak about it a lot.
“If you want to play semi-final football, which it has been for the last five weeks, you can’t score 38 points and concede 42. It’s just not going to get you anywhere.”
Castleford have lost their last three Super 8s games after falling 40-26 at Huddersfield Giants and having also endured a 44-26 defeat against Catalans Dragons in Perpginan.
Dorn, 33, accepts their tail-off has been upsetting given under the new format a top-four finish would have left Daryl Powell’s side just 80 minutes from a maiden Super League Grand Final.
“That’s what we’ve been aiming for since the (Super 8s) split came – we’ve been gunning for that fourth spot,” said the former Harlequins star, who is in his second spell at Wheldon Road.
“But we’ve scored 26 points the previous two weeks and 38 on Thursday. That’s enough to win games and we should be winning them.
“It’s just our defence hasn’t been good enough to get us in better positions in the last 10 or 15 minutes of matches.
“It is disappointing as if you get fourth you play first – and then it’s winner takes everything.”
Dorn has endured a injury-hit season and played just a dozen games but his two classy tries against Saints – including one well-crafted blindside move from a penalty tap – still took his personal tally to eight.
“We’d worked on that during the week,” he said. “Powelly and Shez (Ryan Sheridan) and Danny Orr have always got something up their sleeve depending on how the opposition defend.
“It was a set move and we practiced it a few times. It didn’t actually work how we wanted it to but we got the points which is what matters.”
His impressive footwork off Luke Gale’s offload left opposite full-back Adam Quinlan rooted for his first try, too, and Dorn added: “It’s always nice if someone gets in position to give you the ball like that.
“My main job is to organise our defensive line but finish and create tries, too, and to be able to get the ball off Galey and finish it is very satisfying as that’s my job.
“When I do it well, the team can benefit off the back of it.”
Castleford head to leaders Leeds Rhinos – they won there earlier this year – on Thursday night before rounding off their campaign at Wigan Warriors the following Friday.
Dorn, who helped them to a highest fourth place finish in Super League last term, says they will not ease up.
“We’re all professional and proud of individual and collective performances and proud of this club,” he said. “You can’t go into those situations light-hearted or 50-50 as those teams are gunning for first and second spot so they’ll go for everything.
“Any derby – whether there’s something to play for, it’s a pre-season friendly or we play Leeds over there – is going to be on and we’ll be ready for it.
“We probably can throw a bit less caution to the wind but we want to finish the season how we want to start it next year – with a strong attitude, discipline and desire and show we’re a good side.
“It doesn’t matter if we’ve got something to play for or not, we’ll go out and play for the Castleford badge as hard as anyone else.”