“I thought we had a poor performance on both sides of the ball tonight” – Agar left disappointed by Castleford performance

Richard Agar was left feeling disappointed as his Leeds side went down 32-18 at home to Castleford tonight in a damaging West Yorkshire derby defeat as the Rhinos pursue a place in the top six.

The Rhinos went into the game on the back of a dramatic 27-26 defeat to Warrington last Sunday but, having pushed the George Williams’ inspired Wolves all the way, Leeds were expected to defeat the Tigers having already put 60 points past their West Yorkshire rivals earlier this season.

Castleford had lost the last four before making the trip to Headingley, including Wembley heartache against St Helens and a 70-point thrashing against Salford, but a try from loanee and former Rhino Jimmy Keinhorst handed them what was previously seen as an unlikely win.

That was despite a strong start from the Rhinos which head coach Richard Agar felt his side squandered. He believed his team should have made more of their overwhelming field position and possession in the opening exchanges.

“I thought we had a poor performance on both sides of the ball tonight,” Agar said.

“I thought we had enough chances in the first 15 minutes to put fair daylight in between them, but our selection and execution were poor and our finishing wasn’t what it needed to be.”

Leeds did enjoy the lion’s share of the early field position in the opening 15 minutes, creating a series of half openings which they were unable to turn into tries, a problem which the Rhinos faced earlier in the season, largely down to the number of halfback pairing this term due to injuries.

The pairing of Liam Sutcliffe and Rob Lui tonight was the 10th fielded by Agar this term whilst Lui and Luke Gale – Leeds’ first choice halfback pairing – have yet to play alongside each other. Their lack of consistency in the halves certainly seemed to work against them this evening.

However, Agar didn’t want to take anything away from Daryl Powell’s Castleford Tigers, adding: “I’m going to credit Castleford; their scramble was terrific, but at the same time I will look at the first 15 minutes when we had so many chances and lost opportunities.”

Nonetheless, he still placed the focus on his side and what he felt was a poor performance, especially in defence.

“We were too easy to score against,” said Agar. “Cas didn’t have to work hard enough for their tries – their first two tries were majorly disappointing from us, trying to pass our way out of our own 10 metres and then we dropped the ball followed with one-on-one misses on the edges.”

Agar was also left ruing two key injuries, a common problem for the Rhinos all season. They’ve been unable to name the same team twice in a row this season.

The Rhinos boss added: “King (Vuniyayawa) got knocked out, he’s alright and Liam (Sutcliffe) has been struggling with his knee for a while and it got to a point where he couldn’t go on at half-time.

“He’s been looking after it and patching it up but sometimes it’s just a bridge too far and he was really struggling on it first-half.

“Of course we’ve got Rob Lui who is a bit underdone himself.”

The Leeds boss did have a few words of praise for some of his charges though.

“I thought Kruise (Leeming) played his part and played with a lot of energy and he had to get shifted to half again.

“Konrad (Hurrell) tried to lift us with his big plays – their effort and individual performances were okay but too many across the board weren’t ready to go tonight.”

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