Leeds coach Brian McDermott has praised Castleford, after the Tigers emerged from Headingley on Thursday night with 24-24 draw.
Many observers might have expected the Tigers’ season to be faltering by now, but they have shown some real staying power, and have become definite challengers for honours.
“I thought Castleford were great. They’re a good team. They’re the real deal, they’re not a flash in the pan,” McDermott told reporters at Headingley.
“They’re not just a team who have started off really well, they’re continuing this. That was a tough game to play in.
“We conceded too many easy yards in the first half, they have some very good players out of dummy half, Daryl Clark being one of them.
“But at this level you’ve got to be able to deal with those very good players, and we didn’t.
“We conceded one soft try at least in that first half, I thought.
“Castleford defended really well, I don’t think our attack was poor to any great degree.”
As well as a disallowed try for Cas, another talking point in the game was the sending-off of Kevin Sinfield.
The Leeds skipper was guilty of headbutting Luke Dorn, and, according to McDermott, his red card was perfectly justified.
The coach did indicate, however, that Sinfield receives huge provocation in every game he plays.
McDermott believed that Dorn tangling up Sinfield’s legs in the ruck area may have played a part in the captain’s dismissal too.
“He’s played hundreds upon hundreds of games has Kevin, he’s noted for his discipline,” he said.
“He’s noted for his leadership. In all those games Kev plays he gets attacked, singled out, and people try and run at him.
“He’s had to deal with all of that throughout his career, and has never breached his own discipline once.
“For all those occasions he’s had to endure the opposition trying to get at him, he’s just had a brief, flash-in-the-pan incident.
“I don’t think Luke Dorn‘s going to be walking about all week with bandages on his head. It’s not the worst thing.
“But at the same time, it was the right call from the referee.
“But there’s nobody hurting more at the moment than Kev. He didn’t cost us the game, absolutely didn’t cost us the game.
“He lost it for half a second, it happens. That’s why being mentally tough is tough to do. Having discipline is hard.
“He never lets anybody see, but he’s as emotional, or weak or fragile as anybody is, who gets singled out every game, for the over 500 and odd games that he’s played.
“He has moments of frustration, but we’ve never, ever seen that.
“So I think we can all afford him a momentary lapse of discipline, for what, two seconds?”
McDermott addressed the issue in typically laconic fashion, descrobing it as “silly”.
“We’ll be looking at that area. I don’t think JP will be out go-to man again,” he added.
“We’re heading to the part of the season now where you’ve got be good for the duration of the game, and you’ve got to nail parts of the game.
“We’re getting there. We’ve had some shakey moments, but there were moments tonight when I thought we were very, very good.
“We want to finish tip of the tree, there’s no secret to that. On that show, that won’t stand up for the next six games.
“We’ve got some work to do.”