Castleford coach Lee Radford paid tribute to the effort of his side after they just missed out on a spot in the play-offs following a 14-8 defeat at Leeds.
The Tigers were on course to make the top six when they were 8-0 in front after 72 minutes thanks to a try from Jake Mamo and two goals from Paul McShane.
But the Rhinos scored two tries in four minutes through Kruise Leeming and Aidan Sezer to snatch a victory that earns them a fifth-place finish. Rohan Smith’s side will travel to Catalans Dragons in next Friday’s play-off eliminator.
PLAY-OFFS: Super League play-off schedule confirmed
Lee Radford pays tribute to his patched-up side
The outcome was a tough pill to swallow for Lee Radford, who has finished outside the top six in his first season in charge at the Jungle.
“It was an unbelievable effort and commitment to each other,” Radford said.
“Although we didn’t achieve our season goal, with all that’s been thrown at us and the challenges that we’ve overcome, I’m incredibly proud of them.
“Nobody likes losing but, when you’ve given everything and there’s nothing left, you can sometimes accept that.
“I thought it was a poor quality game in terms of execution but it was exciting. Unfortunately, we just ran out of gas.”
In the second play-off eliminator, Salford will travel to Huddersfield next Saturday.
St Helens and Wigan, who finished in the top two, will have a week off next week. They’ll face the winners of Huddersfield/Salford and Catalans/Leeds the week after in the semi-finals.
The Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford Saturday, September 24. The World Cup will get underway on October 15 when hosts England take on Samoa at St James’ Park in Newcastle.