Richard Agar’s side were simply too strong, too fast and too good in all areas as they left their derby rivals in all sorts of chaos ahead of next Saturday’s Betfred Challenge Cup semi-final against Warrington Wolves.
Captain Luke Gale and full-back Richie Myler ran the show with effortless ease as they continually unpicked feeble opponents, two-try Tom Briscoe shining at centre as woeful Castleford suffered a third straight defeat.
Leeds, with just two wins this term, had only scored 90 points in their opening seven Super League games this term but scored more than half of that in just 68 minutes here.
Admittedly, Castleford were without a raft of players, many such as captain Michael Shenton, stand-off Jake Trueman and second-row Oli Holmes likely rested as they attempt to reach Wembley next weekend.
Nevertheless, there was no excuse for this utterly dire display.
When Brad Dwyer eased over for Leeds’s eighth try in the 64th minute, large numbers of their supporters in the main stand at Wheldon Road upped and left.
A couple of minutes later, teenage Rhinos prop Morgan Gannon added another. A few more fans disappeared. Head coach Daryl Powell must have wanted to join them. It seemed he had seen enough after just 19 minutes.
That was when Greg Eden, back in the side as third-choice full-back, came off with a hamstring issue.
When Kruise Leeming went in for his second try – and Leeds’s sixth – in the 31st minute, scrum-half Danny Richardson was ‘hooked’, Powell fed up of the continued defensive mistakes.
It left them with no recognised half-back on the pitch, hooker Paul McShane instead shifting there to operate alongside Jordan Turner, but that says plenty about Powell’s likely disdain.
It was no surprise his side were booed off after trailing 32-6 at half-time. And things did not get any better in the second period.
When James Clare went off for an HIA, Man of Steel McShane ended up defending on the wing.
Second-row Jesse Sene-Lefao spent most of the game at centre after Pete Mata’utia shifted to full-back but that only encouraged Briscoe further.
Scintillating Leeds produced some lovely football and, frankly, humiliated their vanquished opponents.
It had actually started well for Castleford when Turner dummied and straightened up, sprinting through some flimsy Leeds right-side defence inside two minutes.
Richardson converted but his side spilled in the restart set and Myler’s short ball put Briscoe over.
Much of the pre-match talk had been centred on Leeds’s right-edge defensive frailties after Konrad Hurrell’s mistake-ridden display in Sunday’s defeat against Hull FC.
However, here it was Castleford’s right-edge that looked woefully feeble, something former Tigers favourite Gale took great joy in exposing.
Time after time the England scrum-half raided that side, often linking wonderfully with Myler and Briscoe, the experienced winger looking like he had played centre all his life, running riot.
After Jacques O’Neill spilled on the first tackle after a penalty Myler’s exquisite cut-out pass sent winger Jack Broadbent over untouched. Zane Tetevano burst through the middle from the restart and the hosts defence appeared non-existent at times.
Agar said he did not think much needed altering after that Hull loss and he was right. When Tigers did have the ball, Richardson got harassed on the last tackle and Turner was forced into kicking straight out.
Conversely, when Gale got hurried on the sixth tackle, he squeezed out a ball to Matt Prior, the Australian prop who was somehow allowed to power forward and put Leeming over for his first try of the night.
Myler got one himself down their favourite hunting ground before they finally switched to the right for Luke Briscoe to get in on the action. Next, brother Tom showed his passing skills again to put Broadbent away, Leeming offering support as ever.
Hurrell scored from a chip and chase at the start of the second period and, after Dwyer and Gannon did their damage, there was even time for Gale to race in.
Castleford Tigers: Eden; Clare, Mata’utia, Blair, Olpherts; Turner, Richardson; Watts, McShane, Smith, Sene-Lefao, Griffin, O’Neill. Substitutes: Hepi, Matagi, Peachey, Martin.
Leeds Rhinos: Myler; L Briscoe, Hurrell, T Briscoe, Broadbent; L Sutcliffe, Gale; Oledzki, Leeming, Prior, Mellor, Martin, Tetevano. Substitutes: Dwyer, Vuniyayawa, Donaldson, Gannon.
Referee: Liam Moore (Wigan).
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