Lee Radford admits Leeds Rhinos game was 'awful to watch' but is pleased with Castleford Tigers' defence

Castleford Tigers head coach Lee Radford was happy to take the points, but unhappy with the performance of his team in a game against Leeds Rhinos that he described as "awful".

By Tony Harber
Monday, 18th April 2022, 9:59 pm
Updated Monday, 18th April 2022, 10:00 pm
Liam Watts about to go over for his match winning try for Castleford Tigers against Leeds Rhinos. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

The Tigers came out on top 16-14 against their local rivals to make it an Easter derby double, following their much more impressive 34-4 success against Wakefield Trinity the previous Thursday.

But it was an error strewn display against a Rhinos team going through adversity before and during the game and Cas made hard work of a victory that looked like it was going to be much more comfortable when they were in full control in the first half-hour.

"It was an awful game to watch," said Radford.

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Castleford Tigers' Mahe Fonua fends off Leeds Rhinos tacklers. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

“In a strange way, the messiness of what we produced probably makes the win at the end a bit more gratifying.

“I thought we’d lost that game four times over, the amount of opportunities we gave them, but it had an Easter Monday feel to it.

“The intensity of the game, decision-making and skill and execution were all really slack, but we defended well - I thought that was a positive.

“They got a try from a kick and the last one was a disappointing one to concede, but it was a four-day-turnaround performance."

Leeds Rhinos' James Bentley is sin-binned by referee Liam Moore after a dangerous tackle on Castleford Tigers' Joe Westerman. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

Radford denied his team became complacent after taking an 8-0 lead inside 20 minutes, but felt the Rhinos were revived by a try on the last play of the first half.

“We go in 8-0 at half-time and we’d be in a lot better place,” he added.

“We went in at half-time and we were winning, we knew it would be a flat performance and you have to try and manufacture some energy from somewhere.

“I felt we did that defensively and came up with a special play, Liam Watts’ try, to kill it off.

"The one thing we did was defend well, but we've got to sharpen our focus on Friday night (against St Helens). That's the acid test and playing the best team in the comp should bring the best out of us."

Cas were sharp enough early on when well taken tries by the recalled James Clare and fellow winger Derrell Olpherts had them 8-0 up.

But sloppy play and too many dropped passes invited Leeds into the contest and they were gifted a try right on the half-time hooter. Jake Mamo failed to deal with a grubber to allow Rhyse Martin to give the visitors a lifeline try to which he added the extras.

Despite having experienced half-back Blake Austin on the sidelines following a head injury picked up in the first half to add to the likes of Aidan Sezer, Richie Myler, Jack Walker and Harry Newman already ruled out through injury the Rhinos stayed in the contest in the second half.

Martin levelled the game up with a penalty and the Tigers had to defend their line several times following a succession of mistakes gifting possession to their opponents.

But the game swung the hosts' way again when James Bentley was sin-binned and maybe fortunate not to be red carded for a swinging arm and from the resulting penalty Gareth O'Brien nudged the tigers back ahead.

They then seemed to have sealed victory as a rare moment of quality saw Jake Trueman make a half-break and superb pass to send Liam Watts galloping over the line, after a neat sidestep. With O'Brien converting it was 16-8.

That should have been it, but the home defence melted late on to allow Martin to race over for his second try. His goal brought the scores back to two points and there was a nervy last two minutes for Cas to play out before they finally had their win.