LEEDS RHINOS have secured second place in Betfred Super League – and a home semi-final – despite a 38-24 defeat at Castleford Tigers – here are five talking points from Castleford’s eighth successive win over their fierce rivals.
1: What a strange season. Rhinos are second in the table, preparing for a Super League semi-final and reached the last four of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup, but that is misleading. They have played well only occasionally and in most years wouldn’t be near the top-four on current form. It has been, Castleford apart, a poor standard across the board.
2: Rhinos could meet Tigers for a fifth time, at Old Trafford next month. They would have the edge in big-match experience and there have been shocks – often created by Leeds – in previous Grand Finals, so don’t write them off. If Castleford aren’t there they will fancy their chances, but there is no evidence they are capable of beating Tigers at the moment and the big question now is are Leeds’ management prepared to settle for second-best or will they make major changes to the playing and backroom staff? They look in need of fresh ideas.
3: Yet again, Rhinos had an unused substitute. Ashton Golding, called up after Brett Delaney suffered a hamstring injury in the warm-up, was never likely to get on, but is there any point having a player as 18th man if he isn’t going to be used? The second half might have been a good time to experiment.
4: Leeds could take some heart from their second-half rally, but the damage had been done. Rhinos improved, but Tigers eased off and the scoreline flattered Rhinos.
5: Rhinos’ home semi-final, on Friday, September, 29 – against the third-placed side – will kick-off at 7.45pm. That’s a welcome development and hopefully a sign of things to come next year.