Confidence rising at Castleford Tigers as Leeds Rhinos fail to produce fireworks

Jesse Sene-Lefao.
Jesse Sene-Lefao.
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CASTLEFORD Tigers’ Jesse Sene-Lefao says crucial “in-house” meetings – and, ironically, their hosts’ pre-match pyrotechnics – sparked their much-needed victory at Leeds Rhinos.

The New Zealander scored twice as Castleford ended a four-match losing run when winning 30-8 at Emerald Headingley on Thursday.

Sene-Lefao said: “We have been under pressure the last month and our mindset was pretty much ‘anything to win’.”

“We had a really interesting week in camp; we had a couple of meetings – in-house stuff – but it is awesome just to breathe again. Obviously the last month of rugby for us hasn’t been up to standard. We set a high standard here at Cas and we haven’t been hitting those standards.

“It didn’t matter how we won, the most important thing was to win. We will take a lot of confidence from that game and next week – St Helens at Magic Weekend – is a big challenge again.”

Castleford gained revenge for a Golden Point extra-time defeat to Leeds at the same ground earlier this season.

However, Sene-Lefao insisted that was not a driving force and he was more inspired by the glitzy build-up to Thursday’s game, likening it to a Grand Final appearance.

Leeds marked the full opening of their new North Stand – the final part of their £45m stadium revamp – by staging a pyrotechnic show, handing out flags to all fans in the seated area and singing Land Of Hope And Glory as the players arrived on the pitch.

“Honestly, the walk-out was awesome,” said Sene-Lefao.

“We’ve played Leeds in a Grand Final, but honestly, that… the kids and the fireworks and the crowd…

“Then you have Leeds singing their anthem – I don’t know what song it is, but I am walking out and seeing six year-olds singing their song and they know all the words – it was really awesome. I could not believe how good it felt; it was something special. When a club sets an atmosphere like that it makes you want to play rugby even more.”

Unfortunately, the same could not be said for the Leeds players who produced another inept performance and remain just two points above the relegation spot.

Castleford only led 12-2 at the break, but once Sene-Lefao went over for his second try in the 45th minute the struggling hosts never looked capable of hitting back.

He said: “We spoke about coming out in the second half and setting a platform and not giving in early.

“To get points first was a good goal to tick off and to get over was exciting for me – I think I put the ball down twice, just to make sure.”

There was controversy over Sene-Lefao’s first try with Leeds’s Richie Myler appearing to prevent the Samoa international from grounding the ball.

“I got it down – I just got it down late,” he insisted.

Interim Leeds head coach Richard Agar has a big job on his hands after taking over following Dave Furner’s shock sacking and their problems are mounting.

Before kick-off director of rugby Kevin Sinfield tellingly said: “The problems here have been deep-rooted. The place has been rotten. It’s been left to erode.”