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We'll improve, says Shenton

Castleford captain Michael Shenton says that despite defeat his Tigers team will benefit hugely from Saturday's Tetley's Challenge Cup Final clash with Leeds.

The international centre, who was also on the losing side against the Rhinos for St Helens in the 2011 Super League Grand Final, admitted after his Wembley experience: "I think winning could have benefited us more, but just to be part of this is something special in any player's career and is not to be looked on lightly.

"The boys have handled themselves great and the preparation has been good and Leeds were just a little bit too good for us."

The Tigers have two homes games to come in the next fortnight in the First: Utility Super League, against Bradford and Wakefield, before a trip to Perpignan to face Catalan in the final round, and their skipper is confident that they can finish the campaign strongly.

Belief

"I think we showed in glimpses (against Leeds) that we can match them and we can better them so moving forward the belief is definitely there.

"Once we sit down and break this game down, where can we change things, where can we get better, it's only going to help us as a team. They are a great set of blokes and something like this experience could galvanise us and bring us closer together."

With the play-offs looming, there could be the danger of a cup final hangover affecting the team's forthcoming games, though Shenton shrugs that suggestion off.

"We've got a massive test against Bradford who are playing some outstanding rugby and that's what the focus will be on this week," he said.

"I think the way we've played this season we've given ourselves a real good chance to play in games like this (finals) so the boys are disappointed because we know that we are good enough to beat anyone in the league."

It has been well documented during the season that few had expected to see the Tigers in the top five and in a Challenge Cup final in 2014, but their performances have far outweighed those limited expectations. However, with that comes greater focus from opponents and Shenton conceded: "People are breaking our game down now.

"We've played well this season and they see us as more of a threat than what they have done in the past.

"That is what teams will do to you in big games and you've got to find a way to get yourselves in the game and getting what you want out of the game and not letting them dictate."