Castleford and Leeds will bring the curtain down on the Magic Weekend at St. James’ Park on Sunday. Castleford come in off the back of a 43-point win at home against St. Helens, while Leeds also come in off the back of thrashing Barrow. Leeds will look to avenge their 56-point loss to the Tigers earlier in the season, and end a 5 game losing streak against the Tigers.
LAST TIME OUT
Castleford Tigers went into their Challenge Cup tie against St Helens with a hard fought win against Huddersfield. The Tigers opened the scoring in just the 3rd minute with a well worked try from Michael Shenton. Jake Webster added another, before Ryan Morgan replied for the Saints from a cross-field kick. The two sides traded blows for the middle part of the first half, before Webster stuck again, gathering a pinpoint Ben Roberts cross field kick. Castleford continued to punish the St Helens, scoring another 15 points in the final 6 minutes of the first half off the back of some expansive rugby.
The Tigers didn’t take long to extend their lead after the half time break through a sublime finish from Greg Eden to put the Tigers 35-4 up. Eden scored two more in quick succession, off the back of well-worked structures, before Greg Minkin added to the hosts tally with a 70m solo effort. For the most part of the game, Castleford’s defence remained resolute, with St Helens crossing only once more for a consolation try in the 74th minute.
Leeds went into their Challenge Cup clash with Barrow off the back of a fortuitous away win against Catalans Dragons. Leeds scored a barrage of early tries against the League 1 side, with Joel Moon getting a first half hat-trick. Leeds went into the sheds at half time 32-4 up and continued their dominance over the Raiders in the second half.
Ash Handley opened the try scoring in the second half, and Stevie Ward added another soon after to extend the home side’s lead. The Rhinos continued to get success against the lightweight Barrow defence, with Rob Burrow scoring a notable second half double. Barrow could only reply in the last 10 minutes of the second half in the form of a try from Jarrad Stack. Leeds ended the game victors, with the scoreboard reading 72-10, leaving no doubt that they were back to their points-scoring best.
The edges of both sides will have a massive influence on the game. We know both sets of half backs can provide sublime service for their outside backs, so it’ll be the likes of Michael Shenton and Joel Moon who will be key in finding space on the edges and putting their wingers in. On a short cut football pitch, with a dry track, both sides will have the opportunity to play expansive rugby – but the surface will undoubtedly suit the Castleford outfit.
The Castleford edges have proved lethal this season, and are an integral asset on which the Tigers build a lot of their momentum. The likes of Shenton, Eden, Minikin and Webster have provided some of the best tries seen in Super League this season, and as a side, the Tigers can score from anywhere. In order to win, the Leeds outside backs need to negate the seemingly unstoppable Tigers attack on the edges, and go one better to outscore them.
Although Leeds have better form of late, this one will go the way of Castleford. They still sit top of the Super League, and are playing scintillating rugby at the moment with tries from all over the park. The surface at St James’ Park will favour the Tigers, and their outside backs will most likely light up the final game of the Magic Weekend, as they look to carry on where they left off at St Helens. Castleford by 16
Castleford Tigers: 18. Matt Cook, 5. Greg Eden, 7. Luke Gale, 26. Kieran Gill, 1. Zac Hardaker, 23. Tom Holmes, 34. Alex Foster, 8. Andy Lynch, 14. Nathan Massey, 12. Mike McMeeken, 9. Paul McShane, 10. Grant Millington, 2. Greg Minikin, 13. Adam Milner, 17. Junior Moors, 15. Jesse Sene-Lefao, 19. Gadwin Springer, 4. Michael Shenton, 3. Jake Webster.
Leeds Rhinos: 1. Ashton Golding, 2. Tom Briscoe, 3. Kallum Watkins, 4. Joel Moon, 5. Ryan Hall, 6. Danny McGuire, 7. Rob Burrow, 9. Matt Parcell, 10. Adam Cuthbertson, 11. Jamie Jones-Buchanan, 13. Stevie Ward, 14. Liam Sutcliffe, 15. Brett Delaney, 16. Brad Singleton, 19. Brett Ferres, 20. Antony Mullally, 22. Ash Handley, 23. Jordan Baldwinson, 32. Alex Sutcliffe.