Castleford Tigers vs Leeds Rhinos: Team news, match preview and score prediction

As both sides look to turn poor starts to the season around, Castleford and Leeds meet in a fiery West Yorkshire derby with the added spice of fatigue having played just days prior.

Castleford, if we overlook a blip in a 34-10 defeat to Hull KR in the cup, have been in good form since blasting past Leeds at Headingley and will be looking for their third league win in a row as they hope to pull clear of the Rhinos in the bottom two.

Leeds were oh so close to a second win of the season with a good performance against Huddersfield on Thursday but an implosion in the last two minutes saw them drop a point in a 20-all draw. They need a win here to try and pry themselves away from the bottom. If they lose and Toulouse win they will be rooted to the bottom of the league.

Team News:

Adam Milner will likely miss the game due to a gruesome injury against Wakefield on Thursday. The Tigers will likely still be without Jordan Turner and Bureta Faraimo. Cup winner with the Rhinos Alex Sutcliffe could be in line to start following Milner’s injury.

The big blow for Leeds is the loss of Jack Walker to a hamstring injury which we still don’t know the full extent of with the fullback having had a scan on the leg in question. With Richie Myler unlikely to be back just yet, Jamie Jones-Buchanan hinted on Thursday that Aidan Sezer could be recalled despite suggestion that he may be absent for another three-four weeks. Fans have expected Tom Holroyd to return for the last few weeks so perhaps this is his game? Elsewhere there has been calls for Jack Sinfield to be given a taste of first team rugby.

Match Preview – Key Battles:

Niall Evalds vs Liam Sutcliffe: With Walker and Myler out, Leeds are expected to play Liam Sutcliffe at fullback unless Jack Broadbent is given the nod. Sutcliffe has always played well in the role helping steer Leeds away from relegation in 2016 playing there and shining there in back-to-back wins over Leigh and Warrington in 2021. With a huge build he’s a dangerous runner but he’ll have to have some game to outplay Evalds who is the perfect modern fullback with speed and skill. Leeds will have to shut him down.

Derrell Olpherts vs Ash Handley: Derrell Olpherts scores tries at will and will want to make a statement in the absence of Bureta Faraimo but he’ll be tasked with stopping Ash Handley. The Leeds vice captain routinely scores tries even when Leeds struggle and he’ll be tough to contain especially after such a positive performance against Huddersfield on Thursday.

Paul McShane vs Kruise Leeming: Two of the best nines in the league battle in the middle of the field. Sharp and versatile in the way they play this will be like two chess players looking to out think each other. That said, we may see McShane come up against Brad Dwyer instead with Leeming an option Buchanan may use at six with Sutcliffe moving to fullback.

Where the game will be won and lost:

Both these sides have strong squads capable of being much higher in the league. They both have strong packs and exciting players. After a tough start to 2022, the side who can show their quality today will pick up the win.

Score Prediction: Castleford Tigers 30-18 Leeds Rhinos

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