CLASSY Castleford Tigers totally out played a poor Leeds Rhinos outfit in a one-sided finale to the Magic Weekend’s opening day.
Tigers were in command from start to finish of a hugely impressive 38-10 victory which boosted their top-four credentials and left the defending champions facing an uphill struggle to qualify for this year’s semi-finals.
To add injury to insult, Rhinos full-back Jack Walker (knee), captain Kallum Watkins (knee), prop Nathaniel Peteru (biceps) and hooker Matt Parcell were all injured during the match.
“It was a good game from our perspective,” Tigers coach Daryl Powell said.
“Once we got a grip of the game I thought we did some excellent things.
“I think our left side was particularly creative and dangerous in the first half and our back was immense.”
In contrast, Rhinos coach Brian McDermott described his team’s performance, for at least part of the game, as “soft”.
He praised Castleford’s goal line defence, but said: “In the first half I thought we took some soft options, decided not to run it - looking for miracle balls - and conceded some soft tries.
“It doesn’t mean they are soft players, but they showed some soft traits.”
Tigers dominated the first half to lead 22-0 at the break and were just as impressive in the second stanza, adding three more tries to finish with six in total.
Jy Hitchcox opened the scoring, after 11 minutes, from Joe Wardle’s pass and seven later man of the match Alex Foster extended his try scoring run against his former club to four games when Jake Trueman sent him through a gap in Leeds’ defence.
Jamie Ellis converted both and added a penalty on 33 minutes to make it 14-0.
In the final three minutes of the half Junior Moors forced his way over from close-range and then Ellis - who had booted the conversion - landed a huge penalty goal from half-way after the hooter had sounded.
The start of the second half was delayed by the intervention of a partially-clad fan who emerged from the Cas supporters’ end, ran the length of the field and then reappeared moments later to run most of the way back, before eventually being tackled by stewards.
When the action resumed, Tigers immediately added to their lead through Michael Shenton, who reached over on the last tackle. Referee Chris Kendall indicated no try, but was overruled by video assistant Ben Thaler.
Ellis added the extras, but Leeds avoided a whitewash on 57 minutes produced ome pace and power to score his first Super League try. Watkins converted, but hobbled off injured soon afterwards.
That came soon after Parcell had a touchdown ruled out by the referee and video official, for an obstruction.
With 17 minutes left the impressive Adam Milner crossed from Liam Watts’ pass, Ellis tagging on the goal and two later Oliver Holmes ran through the defence for a well-taken, but unconverted, touchdown.
Castleford finished with 12 men, Mike McMeeken being sin-binned three minutes before time for delaying a tap restart and Leeds completed the scoring when Ferres crossed, following a one-two with Tom Briscoe, though Richie Myler could not convert.