Castleford Tigers 6 Leeds Rhinos 60 - Rampant Rhinos rack up record-breaking win at Cas
HAVING MANAGED only 90 points in their seven previous Betfred Super League games this season, Leeds Rhinos took advantage of a woeful Castleford Tigers performance to run up their highest score at the Jungle last night.
Tigers scored in their first set, then were embarrassed as Rhinos ran in 11 tries in a stunning 60-6 success.
It was just what the doctor ordered for Rhinos, whose attack had been so lightweight in previous games this season, but the only positive for Tigers – who meet Warrington Wolves in a Betfred Challenge semi-final a week today – is they can’t possibly play any worse.
They could also be boosted by the return of key players – including the likes of Jake Trueman, Niall Evalds, Michael Shenton, Oliver Holmes, Nathan Massey and Adam Milner – who didn’t feature last night.
It was hard to tell if Leeds were really good or Castleford extremely poor and actually it was probably a combination of the two.
After their flying start, Tigers did everything wrong – a kick out on the full, squandering possession, having the ball stolen several times and, most expensively, waving Rhinos through some huge holes in the hosts’ right-side defence.
Leeds were good enough to take advantage, running in six tries, one more than in any other match this year, in the first half and five after the break, four of those in the last 15 minutes.
Rhyse Martin landed eight conversions in what was also Leeds’ biggest away win in Super League since 2009.
Both teams have been ravaged by injuries this year, but Tigers had an eye on next week and – having left stand-off Jake Trueman on the sidelines – coach Daryl Powell took his half-back partner Danny Richardson off towards the end of the first half, when Leeds had gone 26 points ahead.
The Richie Myler-Luke Gale combination worked well for Leeds, hooker Kruise Leeming was excellent during their first half rampage and Rhinos’ big middles – Mikolaj Oledzki, Matt Prior and Zane Tetevano – all had big games.
There was also a good moment for 17-year-old substitute Morgan Gannon, who scored his first senior try.
Tigers got off to the best possible start when Jordan Turner scored a scorcher after just 87 seconds, throwing a dummy which got him past Konrad Hurrell and showing the rest of the defence a clean pair of heels.
Richardson added the extras, but Leeds responded immediately and then – aided by some awful Tigers defence – hit a five-try purple patch to lead 32-6 at the break.
George Griffin lost the ball in the set after Turner’s touchdown and from that, Gale and Myler linked to send Tom Briscoe over. Martin’s kick hit a post, but Leeds were in front soon afterwards. Jacques O’Neill lost possession in a penalty set near Rhinos’ line, a penalty carried Leeds upfield and Jack Broadbent went over – again after Gale and Myler had combined.
Three tries in the opening nine minutes could have been four in 12, but for a superb tackle by Matt Prior to keep O’Neill out – which proved to be Tigers’ last attack until the final moments of the half. Peter Mata’utia did really well to hold up Luke Briscoe over Castleford’s line, but at the end of the first quarter Leeds scored their third try, when – on the last – Gale found Prior and he somehow managed to offload to Leeming, who went over close to the posts.
And a couple of minutes later, it was four. Jesse Sene-Lefao made a terrific ankle tap on Broadbent, but Gale switched play on the last and Tom Briscoe did really well to find Myler and he stretched over. There was no goal, but in 22 minutes and even with Martin missing the kick, Rhinos had scored more points than in any game since the Betfred Super League round one win over Wakefield Trinity.
Mata’utia, who switched to full-back when Greg Eden was taken off after Leeming’s try, held up Oledzki, but Rhinos scored again on the next play.
Gale and Liam Sutcliffe moved the ball left and whether or not Martin meant to pop the ball out the way he did, it was effective as Luke Briscoe made the catch to cross. In the next set, Gale, Leeming, Alex Mellor and Tom Briscoe combined brilliantly to send Broadbent away up the left and he turned a nice pass inside to Leeming. Broadbent’s inclusion was the only change to the 17 who lost to Hull five days earlier.
He replaced Ash Handley, who has suffered a recurrence of his pre-season knee problem.
The Leeds youngster was named at left-centre, but played on that wing, outside Tom Briscoe.
Martin’s kick made it 32-6, Leeds having scored at a point per minute, but the next try didn’t come until early in the second half and it will give Powell sleepless nights.
There wasn’t much on when Hurrell got the ball on the last 20 metres out, but he punted a kick towards the line and then ran through to touch down with no Tigers players showing any real interest.
The floodgates reopened on 65 minutes when Brad Dwyer went over from acting-half after James Donaldson had been held up; Gannon scored from Gale’s cross kick, winger Tom Briscoe went in after nice handling by Leeming, Gale and Myler and then Martin sent Hurrell on the break and he handed on to a delighted Rhinos captain Gale to cap an incredible first visit to the Jungle as an away player.
Both sides received four penalties; Leeds had three six-agains to Tigers’ two.
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