Castleford Tigers 66 Leeds Rhinos 10: Tigers leave Rhinos humiliated with stunning display

IT HAS been clear for a year that Castleford Tigers are a team on the up as Leeds Rhinos decline.

Castleford Tigers celebrate Paul McShane's try in their 66-10 win against Leeds Rhinos (Picture: Steve Riding).

But that was really rammed home in front of a packed house at the Jungle as – an admittedly below-strength – Leeds team were ruthlessly ripped apart and left utterly embarrassed.

It was Leeds’s heaviest defeat at Castleford and the first time since 2001 they had conceded more than 60 points.

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Leeds went into the game on the back of successive wins and with the feeling they were making progress after the traumas of last year.

But they were brought crashing down to earth by a brilliant Cas outfit who were far superior in every department.

It was Castleford’s fifth successive win over Leeds – and the second time in as many meetings they have scored more than half a century – and there is absolutely no sign of Rhinos being able to turn things around anytime soon.

Rhinos were not nilled, continuing a record stretching back to 1998, but that was absolutely no consolation and there was a sense of anger among Leeds’s large travelling support, much of it directed at coach Brian McDermott.

Wingmen Greg Minikin and Greg Eden both grabbed hat-tricks for in-form Tigers who ran in 12 tries to two against their patched-up opponents.

Scrum-half Luke Gale contributed 22 points with a try and nine goals while full-back Zak Hardaker, who is on a season-long loan from Leeds, scored and impressed against his parent club.

Leeds had a full pack missing because of injury and suspension while scrum-half Rob Burrow pulled out on the day of the game through illness, forcing McDermott to recall Jordan Lilley from his loan spell with Bradford.

Castleford were forced to play hooker Paul McShane at stand-off in the absence of suspended Rangi Chase and Ben Roberts through injury, but it was little inconvenience as he slotted into a well-oiled machine that is scoring tries at will, largely through their wingers.

The Tigers are lethal on both flanks, with Mininkin and Eden responsible for 12 of their team’s 25 tries in the first three rounds.

Hardaker got Eden over for the first try just two minutes after full-back Ashton Golding lost the ball in the tackle 10 metres from his own line and McShane was heavily involved in the next three.

He supplied key passes for Minikin to go over twice in five minutes before stealing the ball from Ashton on halfway to set up the position for Eden.

Minikin provided the final pass for second rower Mike McMeeken to go over, but the best try came on the stroke of half-time, Gale accepting an offload on halfway by Junior Moors to race clear and kick to the corner for the right winger to pick up and dive over.

Gale’s third conversion made it 30-0 at the break and it took the home side just three minutes of the second to add to their tally.

Lilley’s failed interception attempt gifted Castleford another dangerous position and Gale got Hardaker through a gap before another Leeds old boy, McShane, exploited more shoddy defensive work for their eighth.

Gale extended the lead to 42-0 before Leeds substitute Anthony Mullally hacked forward a loose ball near the Castleford line and claimed a consolation try, goaled by Liam Sutcliffe.

However, Tigers, Jake Webster charged through a threadbare defence and Eden completed his hat-trick before Gale and captain Michael Shenton added further tries in the last 10 minutes.

Rhinos had the dubious distinction of scoring the final try through centre Joel Moon.

Castleford Tigers: Hardaker, Minikin, Webster, Shenton, Eden, McShane, Gale, Lynch, Milner, Springer, McMeeken, Sene-Lefao, Massey. Substitutes: Millington, Moors, Cook, Maher.

Leeds Rhinos: Golding, Handley, Watkins, Moon, Hall, McGuire, Sutcliffe, Singleton, Parcell, Cuthbertson, Keinhorst, Delaney, Walters. Substitutes: Ormondroyd, Mullally, Baldwinson, Lilley.

Referee: Ben Thaler (RFL).