Super League: Castleford Tigers 38-10 Leeds Rhinos
|Betfred Super League|
|Castleford (22) 38|
|Tries: Hitchcox, Foster, Moors, Shenton, Milner, Holmes Goals: Ellis 7|
|Leeds (0) 10|
|Tries: Oledzki, Ferres Goal: Watkins|
Castleford Tigers produced their most complete performance of the season to dismantle champions Leeds Rhinos and move into the Super League top four.
The Tigers scored three tries without reply in the first half through Jy Hitchcox, Alex Foster and Junior Moors.
Cas skipper Michael Shenton stretched the lead before Mikolaj Oledzki's first league try got the Rhinos on the board.
It was a short-lived high for Leeds as Adam Milner and Oli Holmes rumbled over before a late Brett Ferres consolation.
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After a stellar 2017 in which Castleford were the stand-out performers, Leeds spoiled their Grand Final party with a ruthless display of big-game nous at Old Trafford.
That was at odds with the regular season results, and the Wheldon Road side have now won back-to-back games against their big city rivals this season.
Daryl Powell's Tigers have failed to rediscover the same white-hot style they blew teams away with last year so far this season. But, with their forwards fit and firing and the half-back pairing of of 19-year-old Trueman and Jamie Ellis inspired, in front of their near 4,000-strong support at St James' Park, this was more like it.
The left edge was the pressure point, with Leeds' right-side defence given a torrid night, and the loss of captain Kallum Watkins with a knee injury was another disappointing note for the Rhinos. Already without five regulars, they also lost full-back Jack Walker (knee), while prop Nathaniel Peteru picked up a second biceps injury of the season and hooker Matt Parcell a shoulder injury.
In the defence of their title Leeds have now lost six times in 14 games, only two defeats less than in the whole of the 2017 regular season.
Leeds coach Brian McDermott:
"Both teams looked a bit erratic to start with and I was hoping we were going to get hold of the game first.
"We were soft in the first half. It's very rare I say that about my players. We took some soft options and conceded some soft tries.
"Cas got hold of the game and they looked very good. Their goal-line defence was great.
"We've a bit of a busted group at the moment. Kallum felt a pop and heard a pop. That normally means something has snapped."
Castleford coach Daryl Powell:
"The quality of the performance went on for longer than it has done in our season so far. There's more consistency coming from players.
"We had more players playing well than we've had in recent weeks. So there are a few things for us to get excited about.
"We've been pretty much written off but, as we start to get players back and some confidence and durability about us as a team, we're going to be a really dangerous team. We've still got a fair bit of life in us.
"Jake is getting more and more confidence with the way he's playing. He's a good player. He's got such a deft touch with his kicking game. And his pass just sits there on a shelf - if you're catching that pass it's almost perfect, it just says 'catch me'."
Castleford: Shenton, Minikin, Webster, Foster, Hitchcox, Ellis, Trueman, Watts, McShane, Sene-Lefao, Wardle, McMeeken, Milner.
Replacements: Moors, Millington, Holmes, Massey.
Sin-bin: McMeeken (76).
Leeds: Walker, Briscoe, Watkins, Handley, Hall, Moon, Myler, Oledzki, Parcell, Peteru, Ward, Jones-Buchanan, Delaney.
Replacements: Cuthbertson, Dwyer, Ferres, Smith.
Referee: Chris Kendall (RFL)