MATCH-WINNER LUKE Gale has admitted to “mixed emotions” over Castleford Tigers’ latest win against Leeds Rhinos.
Tigers’ 25-24 victory at Elland Road three days ago was their ninth in 10 meetings with Gale’s hometown club, but they almost blew it after leading 24-0.
Gale felt Castleford were “awesome” for 20 minutes, but “on the back foot” after that.
“We were good at the start,” he said. “But Leeds did what they do best, they come back and they are always in it.
“We got out to a 24-0 lead and you know when things go that well there’s going to be a point in the game where you’re going to be on the back foot and things aren’t going to go your way.
“I reckon we were scrappy. I’ve got mixed emotions really, it was a massive win, but we weren’t that great and we’ve got room for improvement.”
The England scrum-half’s long-range drop goal after the half-time hooter sounded was what separated the sides at the end.
It extended Tigers’ lead to 25-10 and did not seem pivotal at the time, but Gale said: “You know when you play Leeds it is going to be a close game.
“There was probably 10 seconds to go and I thought I’d have a crack. I normally like them from 20 metres and in, I don’t have the legs for it from that far out, but I struck it well and luckily it went over.”
The derby was marred by a series of scuffles between the two sets of players, but Gale said that underlined the competitiveness between the teams.
“It’s a good rivalry,” he said.
“There’s a lot of mates on each side and that probably adds to it.
“I think it’s two good teams and it’s almost like a boxing match when you say styles [make fights]. It is always an entertaining game.”
Tigers have won four successive matches since their round-one drubbing at St Helens.
“We might not be playing at our best, but we are still racking the wins up,” Gale said.
“No one remembers the games in March or how much you win them by, as long as you keep getting two points.
“That’s the basis we’ll be going on.”
Friday’s crowd of 24,246 was Leeds’ highest in Super League and their second best for a ‘home’ league game in half a century.
Gale said he’d be “all for” other games being taken to similar venues.
“It is a great concept at Elland Road, it was kind of like a mini-Grand Final,” he said.
“The atmosphere was outstanding and I really enjoyed playing there.
“It feels a bit different to a normal round, a bit more special.
“The boys enjoyed it and I think it was a great game to watch.”