“HORRENDOUS. We saved our worst performance of the season for Old Trafford.”

So stated former York City Knights favourite Greg Minikin in summing up Castleford’s Grand Final frustration.

Minikin’s Tigers team, the runaway league leaders, lost 24-6 in the Manchester rain to old masters Leeds Rhinos, who duly collected a record eighth Super League title triumph.

“We were well off,” said Minikin. “It was slippy and we did not play the conditions and that showed with the error count.

“We will bounce back next year. For now, it’s not a great feeling.

“We kept making errors. We got on top a bit but then we made an error. It was not us. It was not even close to what we’re about.”

Cas trailed only 7-0 at half-time, but the game was gone long before Alex Foster – like Minikin a graduate of York’s old scholarship – broke the Tigers’ duck with a late consolation.

Minikin said: “We still knew if we played well in the second half we could win it, but we didn’t do that.

“We’ve got to bounce back. We’ve lost this one this year. We’ll win one next year.”

This was Minikin’s first time at Old Trafford. He said: “We were on the wrong end of the scoreline, but the whole week leading up to it and the day itself was great experience.

“We’ve had a great season. We won the league by a record number of points and made it to the Grand Final. It’s just not a great feeling right now.”

Asked if nerves played a part against a side with far greater Grand Final knowledge, Minikin said: “I don’t know. They’ve played in Grand Finals before and some of our lads haven’t.

“We wanted to play our game. We know we can play well but our ball security just wasn’t good enough.”

Leeds captain Danny McGuire showed them how to do it on this stage, rolling back the years to lead the Rhinos to more glory – scoring two tries and two drop-goals on his final appearance for the club, and winning the Harry Sunderland Trophy as man of the match.

He and Rob Burrow - also in his last hurrah for the Rhinos - are two of only three players to have won this accolade twice in the 20-year history of the Grand Final. The other is former team-mate Kevin Sinfield.

Cas are the great entertainers but Leeds’ big game experience, especially in such wet conditions, was evident throughout.

It was far from a classic in front of a sell-out crowd of 72,827, the greasy ball slipping and sliding from both sides’ grasp.

Castleford’s usually devastating expansive game was duly hindered, with Leeds’ defence doing the rest. The Rhinos played the percentages better too.

Right-winger Minikin had a solid enough game but his one fumble conceded a soft dropout and proved costly.

At the end of the resultant set, McGuire chipped to the opposite flank where Tom Briscoe leapt between Greg Eden and Jy Hitchcox, emerged with the ball and touched it down, Kallum Watkins goaling.

Eden, prolific on Castleford’s wing this year, was playing at full-back in the wake of Zak Hardaker’s club-imposed suspension, with Hitchcox his replacement on the wing.

Minikin and co, by the way, were under orders not to answer questions about their missing team-mate whose absence was harshly felt.

A couple of decisions went against Cas. The ball appeared to be reefed from Michael Shenton but referee James Child saw otherwise. Watkins immediately shot onto McGuire’s smart kick but the video ref ruled his fingertips had not grounded the ball.

Cas should have hit back after Briscoe conceded a soft free-kick for obstruction near his own line. A fine Cas move – such a regular delight this season but so rare in this match - had Hitchcock in but McGuire somehow knocked the ball from his grasp.

Hitchcock was then denied by the video ref. He ran onto an impromptu Ben Roberts kick but there was obstruction in back play. It was not Castleford’s day.

McGuire inched the lead up on half-time with a drop goal and, while he blotted his otherwise perfect copybook with a miscued field kick early in the second period, it was he who increased the lead further on 51 minutes.

Ryan Hall challenged Eden under a Joel Moon kick and McGuire picked up the loose ball and swan dived over the whitewash.

Cas bemoaned the refereeing eight minutes later as Moon scythed through down the right and gave Briscoe his second try – the forward pass not spotted by the officials. Watkins converted.

If it wasn’t game over at 17-0, it was with just over 10 minutes left when a little kick by the retiring Burrow should have been dealt with but slipped away in the grease, with fellow club legend McGuire pouncing. Watkins again converted.

Eden had a try at other end ruled out – Hitchcock with a foot in touch when otherwise doing well to get the ball back inside.

McGuire rubbed salt in wounds with his second drop-goal three minutes from time before Cas at least avoided becoming the first side to be nilled in the Grand Final – Foster crossing after some broken play, Luke Gale converting.