Leeds Rhinos 16-40 Castleford Tigers: Highlights, player ratings and talking points

Problems continue to mount at Headingley. Out of the cup and 10th in the league, today’s defeat to Castleford highlighted the need for the Rhinos to appoint a new coach and fast as they conceded 40 in a West Yorkshire derby to be dumped out of the Challenge Cup.

As for Castleford, today’s win highlights the potential of the Lee Radford era at the Jungle and will give them optimism going into the rest of the season.

Highlights:

Kenny Edwards runs the show
In the first 40 minutes, Kenny Edwards ran the show for Castleford. A superb break from the second-row and beautifully timed ball inside for Jake Trueman created the first try for the Tigers and from there he was always a runner who made himself difficult to stop. He later created another try for Jordan Turner after Brad Dwyer had been sin binned for a trip on the backrower.

Classy Cas make a comeback
With a change of coach always comes a change in philosophy. Subsequently, it’s been a tough start for Lee Radford at the Jungle as he tries to get his side playing the way he wants them to. However, after glimpses in their last two games, Classy Cas were truly back in the first 40 today but this time with a Lee Radford spin on it. Their outside backs made plenty of metres getting the Tigers up field enabling players like Niall Evalds and Jake Trueman to express themselves leading to an avalanche of points.

Mr Intercept strikes again
There are few players as associated with the intercept as Greg Eden. The speedster made headlines last year with a match winning intercept to down the Champions and today he conjured up a game breaking moment as he produced a superb intercept try to seal Castleford’s place in the last eight of the Challenge Cup. Leeds started the second half looking dangerous and scoring back-to-back tries. There was a feeling in Headingley that a comeback was brewing till their confidence got the better of them throwing a pass straight into Eden’s hands who then ended their comeback there and then with a try.

Talking Points:

1. Clamp down coming to an end
There has been rumours recently that the clamp down on contact with the head is set to slow down. Whether that is truly the case or not remains to be seen but Liam Moore should be commended for the way he managed contact today. He wasn’t pressured by a lively and frustrated Headingley crowd into giving penalties where there was no clear infringement, a tough task in today’s climate. Instead, he held his nerve and punished the tackles that seemed to warrant it. There was one contentious decision with Brad Dwyer sin binned just before halftime which was certainly a game breaking moment with Cas scoring twice before halftime against a 12-man Leeds side. It could have been seen as harsh by some but truth be told Leeds were struggling with 13 on the field.

2. First 40 shows that Radford’s Cas project can be a success
There was huge optimism at the Jungle going into 2022 after some exciting recruitment, but things stalled in Round One for the Tigers. However, today’s first half showing coupled with a few positives over the last few weeks shows that patience is the way forward. Today we saw what Radford’s philosophy can do as his side produced their own brand of Classy Cas. Today, especially in the first half, they blended the physicality associated with Radford teams with some enterprising rugby in the Leeds 20 to decide the game inside the first 40 minutes.

3. What next for Leeds?
Some Leeds fans believed that there would be a reaction to Richard Agar’s departure, that club man Jamie Jones-Buchanan would dig out an amazing performance that would kickstart Leeds’ season today but it wasn’t to be. There was definitely effort in the performance but things aren’t clicking at Leeds especially in attack. The first 40 was a difficult watch for Leeds fans and was greeted with boos. The second stanza was more encouraging especially the 10 minute spell which showed the attacking potential Leeds have when they scored back-to-back tries. Potential is there but there is a need for a new coach and a vision that is going to get the best out of this squad. However, time’s running out. Leeds may have to concede that now silverware is out of the question in 2022 and a relegation battle appears to be on. The Rhinos don’t have the luxury of time. They need the right appointment and fast.

Player Ratings:

Leeds Rhinos
1 Jack Walker – 8
29 Liam Tindall – 5
20 Tom Briscoe – 5
4 Liam Sutcliffe – 6
5 Ash Handley – 7
6 Blake Austin – 6
7 Aidan Sezer – 5
8 Mikolaj Oledzki – 6
9 Kruise Leeming – 5
10 Matt Prior – 6
11 James Bentley – 7
12 Rhyse Martin – 8
24 Jarrod O’Connor – 6
Substitutes
14 Brad Dwyer – 5
17 Cameron Smith – 5
21 Morgan Gannon – 5
25 James Donaldson – 5

Castleford Tigers
1 Niall Evalds – 8
23 Greg Eden – 8
3 Jordan Turner – 7
4 Jake Mamo – 7
5 Bureta Faraimo – 7
6 Jake Trueman – 7
31 Gareth O’Brien – 8
22 Daniel Smith – 7
9 Paul McShane – 7
15 George Griffin – 7
11 Kenny Edwards – 9
10 George Lawler – 7
13 Joe Westerman – 9
Substitutes
8 Liam Watts – 8
14 Nathan Massey – 7
12 Adam Milner – 6
17 Mahe Fonua – 6

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