Castleford Tigers v Leeds Rhinos: Coach Radford refusing to take Rhinos for granted

CASTLEFORD TIGERS will not make the mistake of underestimating Leeds Rhinos in tomorrow’s derby at the Jungle, coach Lee Radford insists.

By Peter Smith
Sunday, 17th April 2022, 5:56 pm

Rhinos are second from bottom in Betfred Super League with just one win so far and were thrashed 40-16 at home by Tigers in a Challenge Cup tie less than four weeks ago.

But they drew 20-20 with Huddersfield Giants last Thursday, after leading by 10 points with two minutes remaining, and Radford reckons Leeds are a better team than results suggest.

“Irrelevant of where they are in the comp’ or what’s going on in the club, they are still a decent side on paper,” Radford warned.

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Castleford Tigers' Alex Sutcliffe will miss the Easter Monday game against his former club Leeds Rhinos with a knee problem. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

“You have to pay them respect for that reason.”

Radford is looking for a similar start to the one Tigers made in their 34-4 success at Wakefield Trinity three days ago. Tigers were 14-0 ahead at half-time and Radford reflected: “Thursday’s start was important.

“If you look at that start compared to the previous week, it really was chalk and cheese. We had composure and we got a bit of momentum and the big thing was field position; we dominated that early, which allowed us to reap the rewards later in the game.”

That was Castleford’s second-successive league win and Radford reckons a change in the way games are being refereed has played a part in their recent improved form. He recalled: “At the beginning of the year there was a reason for the results; we weren’t the most penalised team in the competition, but we got the fewest penalties.

Castleford Tigers coach Lee Radford is treating Super League strugglers Leeds Rhinos with the respect and is refusing to take a win for granted. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

“Everybody we played was fantastically disciplined, up until round six - and not only that, they were incredibly efficient in the ruck as well, because we had the least set restarts.

“Add to that the sin-binnings people were getting in games, but they’ve now come to some common sense and changed that. I think that had a lot of impact on results - that’s not making excuses, we were poor in some games, but the game seems to have settled down a bit.

“The rash decisions are not being made now and I think you’re seeing officials have less impact on games, which can only be a good thing, the less they are spoken about.”

The early-season spate of red and yellow cards - particularly the controversial sin-binnings of Tigers’ Mahe Fonua at Wigan and Huddersfield Giants’ Jermain McGillvary against Castleford - led to an online meeting between coaches and referees’ representatives.

Freescoring Castleford Tigers winger Greg Eden is being rested for the Easter Monday visit of Leeds Rhinos. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

Radford felt the RFL listened to clubs’ concerns and he stressed: “I think they had to, after the Mahe one and McGillvary the week before.

“It was incredible the way it was headed and we had to take a different direction, otherwise we’d have been losing the spectators we’ve gained this year, not only in the stands, but viewers on tv as well.”

Tigers will line up against Leeds without Greg Eden, who is being rested after scoring 11 tries in his last seven appearances.

The winger missed much of last year because of a persistent hamstring injury and was hampered by calf muscle problems in pre-season.

Radford explained: “He has to be looked after a little bit and the caution we are taking will hopefully see him playing more rugby towards the back end of the year.”

Former Rhinos centre/second-rower Alex Sutcliffe also drops out from the team which won at Wakefield.

“He is struggling with his knee,” Radford said.

“We are going to look to get him some treatment on that.

“He has struggled with it for a fair while, through pre-season, but he has battled on.

“We need to get that looked at.”