Leeds ignite season by beating Castleford with 11 demolition tries | Super League
Tables can turn very quickly in the Super League – just ask anyone associated with Castleford Tigers and Leeds Rhinos. Richard Agar had promised that, as his key players returned from injury, Leeds’ slow start to the season would be slowly undone. But even he couldn’t have predicted a night like this.
Most Castleford fans wouldn’t do it a fortnight ago either, as their side booked their places in the Challenge Cup semi-finals and started the league’s new season with four wins in five games. But that, in a nutshell, is the rugby league for you. Fortune can change in the blink of an eye and how the Tigers hope they will do it again in the next seven days.
But more on Castleford later. It was truly Leeds’ night as they kicked off their season with their best result and performance of the season. Agar had emphasized throughout Leeds’ slow start to 2021 that their fortunes would improve with the return of their main stars, and the difference Richie Myler and Zane Tetevano made here was clear. For perhaps the first time in 2021, it was a full team performance from the Rhinos who still had a lot to play for this season.
Each of the 11 tries they scored was exceptional and Castleford had no response to what Leeds – especially their exceptional half-back Luke Gale – threw at them. It just might be a night that Leeds consider their season to come to life. “It was a great display of offensive rugby,” said Agar. “It will do us good; we showed little pieces this year, but not like that. “
Surprisingly, considering the final score, Leeds fell behind after two minutes when Jordan Turner crossed paths, but that’s where Castleford’s score for the night started and ended. At halftime, six unanswered tries tipped the contest firmly in favor of the Rhinos, with some home fans already heading for the exits before the hooter.
Gale was the chief architect of the Fall of Castleford, having participated in five of those six trials. Jack Broadbent, Tom Briscoe and Myler all benefited from Gale’s influence on the Leeds left edge attack, with Kruise Leeming and Luke Briscoe also crossing each other to bring the score to 32-6 at the interval. When Konrad Hurrell added another shortly after half-time, it was painfully obvious the Tigers weren’t in the running.
Daryl Powell’s bet to let a number of key players rest ahead of next week’s Challenge Cup semi-final with Warrington backfired on Warrington in spectacular fashion, and with this game it can be said that their last chance to earn silverware ahead of Powell’s departure at the end of the season, a third straight loss here, plus the way of that, will have concerned Tigers fans.
“I’m a proud man and it was so disappointing it’s hard to put into words,” Powell said afterward. “Some of these defensive efforts are incredibly unacceptable and these boys won’t be on the squad for the semi-final. It’s that simple. It’s a terrible loss, but it’s not the end of the world.
It’s not that Castleford fans will feel that way after this, however. Even when the result was assured, Leeds did not give in. The final quarter saw more tries for Tom Briscoe, Morgan Gannon and Gale, which capped a sublime individual display with a magnificent long-distance try. By this time, however, an already sparse house terrace was practically empty.
Castleford Eden; Olpherts, Mata’utia, Blair, Clare; Turner, Richardson; Watts, McShane, Smith, Sene-Lefao, Griffin, O’Neill. Exchange Martin, Peachey, Hepi, Matagi.
Leeds Myler; L Briscoe, Hurrell, Broadbent, T Briscoe; Sutcliffe, Gale; Oledzki, Leeming, Prior, Mellor, Martin, Tetevano. Exchange Dwyer, Vuniyayawa, Donaldson, Gannon.
Arbitrator L Moore.