Castleford Tigers head coach Daryl Powell was not too harsh on his players after they failed to achieve the one final win that would have given them the Super League leaders’ shield.
While obviously disappointed with the 28-6 defeat to Catalan Dragons, which meant that the Tigers finished in fourth and missed the chance to pip St Helens in top spot, Powell felt the players had given everything they had got, but ran out of energy in the second half because of a number of factors, not least the heat in Perpignan.
He told the Express: “There was a big prize there if we could have won the game, but it was tough conditions, they played well and we didn’t.
“It was pretty hot and we had minimal ball. When we did have the ball we made errors with it.
“They are used to the conditions and they have been great on their own ground all year. They are on a bit of a roll and they made it tough for our boys.
“The first half we couldn’t really get enough good field position. We were pretty much coming off our line constantly.
“We got a couple of tough calls that impacted on our game - the first when Luke Dorn looks like he gets his foot on the line to get a tap 20 and he calls us back. We then had four sets on our line at that point, which made it really difficult.
“The second was when Grant Millington got pulled for tackling in the air, which I thought was an incorrect decision.
“Both decisions impacted on our energy levels.
“The fact that they scored late on in the first half after it had been pretty evenly contested took a lot of energy out of us as well.
“Then the second half we just looked tired, we made errors and it sort of compounded it that the more they grew the more our fatigue grew.
“But I thought we worked really hard even though there was a weight of possession and a weight of everything against us.
“We conceded a couple of sloppy tries, but the game didn’t get away from us massively because the players just showed what true character they’ve got this season.
“Whilst obviously we are disappointed I think on wider reflection to finish fourth has been an excellent achievement.”