Shenton reflects on Cup Final

Posted: Monday 19th July 2021 - 3:00 PM

A strong second half from St Helens saw the Lancashire side lift the trophy, winning 26-12. It’s a difficult pill to swallow for all who are involved or support the Tigers, none more so than the skipper who spoke to following the game.

“I thought the week’s build-up we had was great, the occasion is very special, and I don’t think we particularly started the game well, but we grew into the game in the first half and we were on top for most of that first half,” commented Shenton.

“Then to come out and start so slow in the second half was massively disappointing. We let in two very soft tries, the first one there are milliseconds in it with Grace’s feet. Some of those things go for you, some don’t. Our reaction to that on the inside was slow, you can’t be like that. Just a few areas, we let ourselves down with ball control, in big games, you can’t do that.

 “You have to be able to keep the ball well and go set for set and they managed to do that, and we didn’t. I think that’s where the game broke down.”

In the tremendously hot conditions at Wembley, Castleford showed an incredible amount of heart and effort in the match which Shenton believes they can take pride in.

“The effort from the boys was outstanding, there was massive courage there. A few calls went against us, we had to defend our line a hell of a lot and Saints controlled all the territory in the second half. To hold them out, I thought the scoreline flattered them with those kicks and Amor’s try at the end. I can’t see how the ref’s given that, but it’s done and dusted now. We have to get over our bumps and bruises, the hit to our egos there, getting beaten in finals is devastating but we have to move on.”

Much was made of the sacrifices made by both teams ahead of the Challenge Cup Final and for the Tigers’ captain, it was a special moment to lead his team out and have his family there cheering him on.

“All the families, not just mine, it’s always special to come down to Wembley, experience it here in London. It’s probably the most famous stadium in the world and to get to play here is special and for all the kids and all the young Castleford supporters who get to come down and experience it.

 “I’m gutted for all our supporters, my family, all the other families, and the lads that we didn't get the job done. I don’t really want to say sorry as I think we did give it our all, but I am gutted for everybody, and we’ll do what we can to try and get something else out of this season.”

The support shown throughout the Wembley week for Castleford Tigers was remarkable, and despite the result, a huge number of the Fords faithful stayed after the full-time whistle to applaud the team. Shenton wished to thank the fans and reaffirm the team will be doing everything they can do to finish off the season well.

“I just want to finish with just a big thank you for our fans. They made it very special. The atmosphere they created was awesome, it really was. It’s a bit different at the moment but that kind of support - losing is never easy - but that support at the end, it feels like they have got our backs. We gave it a good go, St Helens are a hell of a team, and ff you’re not 100 percent on it it’s very difficult to get a result against them.

“But this season is not done and dusted. It’s massive we got to the final. Massively disappointing we didn’t win it, but rugby keeps going and we have to fight to get into that top six now.

“All our focus now is moving past this as quickly as possible and getting back into the league and getting that back on track. Obviously, the Challenge Cup has been a distraction from the league - of course as it is such an important competition but now that’s done and dusted - we need to compete at our best and get in those play-offs.”

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