CASTLEFORD Tigers’ Jesse Sene-Lefao admits his side got what they deserved after a bitterly disappointing semi-final loss at Wigan Warriors ended their season.
Friday’s mistake-ridden 14-0 defeat was a woeful way to miss out on another trip to Old Trafford.
Castleford fell short in last year’s Grand Final defeat to Leeds Rhinos with an inept display – their worst of 2017 – and they stuttered badly again in their latest showcase game.
“It was not what we expected,” conceded prop Sene-Lefao about what occurred at DW Stadium.
“We didn’t play our best. If you do that against quality teams they make you pay and that’s exactly what happened.
“Wigan played really well, but that’s two years in a row we’ve played really bad in our last game.”
Castleford were only 7-0 behind at the break despite a raft of mistakes in the first period. They made more of an impact at the start of the second half, but still did not have enough patience or guile to break down the unrelenting defence of Wigan, who will meet Warrington Wolves in Saturday’s Grand Final.
“We gave them the ball too easily,” admitted Sene-Lefao, the New Zealander who helped Castleford to the League Leaders’ Shield last term, his first since joining from Cronulla Sharks.
“We didn’t really apply pressure enough for them to actually struggle a bit.
“We gave them the ball back on play two and play one and when you do that against a quality side like Wigan they punish you.”
He added: “We talk about nine out of 10 performances from our whole squad and I don’t think we ticked that box.
“Certainly next year that is something we have got to work on and also tweak our game just to be ready for big games like Friday’s. It is going to be a fire in our belly to do well next year.”
Although it was a massive anti-climax at the end, he maintained the West Yorkshire club had had a “massive, massive year.”
Castleford did finish third despite a succession of injury problems to key players.
“We lost a lot of players,” added the 28-year-old.
“We were counting on our back-up players to perform. They did so and we still came in the top-four.
“That is a learning curve for us.”
However, they clearly did miss Jake Trueman on Friday, the half-back who missed the Wigan loss due to a broken hand suffered in the previous week’s defeat at St Helens.
Unfortunately, he now misses the England Knights tour of Papua New Guinea as well but he is in the running for the Super League Young Player of the Year at an awards dinner in Manchester this evening when James Roby, Ben Barba and John Bateman do battle for the Man of Steel.