Just a few weeks ago Leeds Rhinos looked to have a strong chance of making the Super League playoffs but a poor run of form rounded off by their most recent defeats versus Wigan Warriors and Catalans Dragons, by a combined total of 111-0, saw them crash out of contention setting up tonight’s dead rubber against Castleford Tigers.
Despite nothing to play for in terms of making the playoffs tonight’s game proved a huge test of resilience and pride for the Rhinos who have been well under par of late, and they passed that test with flying colours.
Heading into the game following their worst ever Super League loss and facing a team who had beaten them twice already this season, there were major concerns for Rohan Smith’s side but they ran out as huge victors tonight.
With a number of key injuries it was a bare bones team that Rohan Smith sent out with Jack Sinfield once again playing, but the reliable Cam Smith missing out.
As for Castleford they debuted young Fletcher Rooney at full-back whilst the departing Greg Eden once again resumed in the halves alongside former Rhino Blake Austin.
Leeds hadn’t scored in their past two matches but just 13 minutes in they amended that drought with Luke Hooley darting through to score against the team whom he has been linked with for next season.
Winger David Fustitu’a benefited from a smart Harry Newman offload to stroll in at the corner to double the Rhinos lead and from there the floodgates opened.
Derrell Olpherts crossed over ahead of the half hour mark minutes whilst Jack Sinfield got his first Rhinos try when he intercepted a pass inside Tigers territory and crossed over to make it 22-0 at the half.
Just minutes into the second forty and Fusitu’a got his second when collecting a high kick, whilst he completed his hattrick on the 50 minute mark to assert the Rhinos dominance.
Sam Lisone then got in on the action on the hour mark as Leeds stretched the lead to 40-0, not before fellow prop Sam Walters scored on what will be his final performance in blue and amber before departing for Wigan.
Having conceded 50 points or more in their last two games, Leeds were now pushing for 50 themselves but it wasn’t to be as they rounded out a disappointing season with an impressive 46-0 win.