Leeds Rhinos star Danny McGuire praised Castleford Tigers for their performance in the record breaking 66-10 victory over the former champions at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle on Thursday night.
McGuire - so often the scourge of Castleford in the past - had to admit that his team were well beaten in every department by a rampant Tigers side full of confidence.
Leeds were without seven regulars, but McGuire did not want to make that an excuse.
He said: “We weren’t good enough - we weren’t strong enough and we didn’t work hard enough for each other.
“We had a few players on the sidelines who would help us defensively a bit, but the lads who came in I thought they tried - but across the board we weren’t good enough.
“It is hard. When you come up against a team that are full of confidence and playing well and making the right decisions it’s hard to defend and then when you do get the ball you just want to get to the end of your sets.
“We didn’t really challenge Cas much when we had the ball because they were ripping us apart when we were in defence. It was a tough learning curve, but that’s the game - they are playing well at the minute.”
McGuire added: “We made it easy for Cas. Don’t get me wrong, they played some really good stuff and it is really tough to defend on the edges.
“You don’t know who’s getting the ball, there’s plenty of options and especially if you’re not winning the rucks you can’t look up and decide who you are defending.
“It is tough and they are doing really well, they all seem to know what they are doing as well which makes it tough to defend and when we did get the ball we dropped it too many times or made too many mistakes, especially in that first half.”
Tigers scored from all Rhinos’ first half errors and McGuire added: “That’s what they’ve been good at so far this year, they are good at punishing mistakes because they are very structured - everybody knows where they are and what they are doing for the team and when they get opportunities they take them.
“They’ve got some good strike out wide and some very clever players.”