Castleford went 7 points clear at the top of Super League with a hard fought win against Leeds Rhinos at Headingley.
CALAMITOUS MISTAKES BLOT RESOLUTE CASTLEFORD DEFENCE
This year Castleford’s defence has been head and shoulders above the rest of the Super League. Had it not been for two massive errors in their own red zone – a bizarre Ben Roberts interception pass and a mix up on a high bomb, Castleford would have kept the high-flying Rhinos to nil.
In past seasons, Castleford have had a very potent attack (albeit not as potent as this year) but have lacked a solid defence, and with their defence now shored up, they are running away with the league leaders shield and most probably the Super League title. Defence wins titles.
HARDAKER SHOWS HIS WORTH
Hardaker’s try just five minutes into the second half seemingly threw all the momentum in the favour of his side. He tore through the Leeds defence at the start of a set where Castleford looked lethargic and only two points separated the sides. In fact, he was the only player behind the ball apart from Jake Webster at acting dummy half.
That was all he needed though, as he carved through the pressing Leeds defence, only to get to the fullback and embarrass his parent club once more by palming off Liam Sutcliffe to cross the whitewash and extend his side’s lead. Without doubt, he has been one of the signings of the year in Super League, and he showed Leeds exactly what they were missing on Friday night with arguably the try of the year.
CASTLEFORD MARCH ON TOWARDS THE TITLE
Last week it looked as though Castleford could be stopped, but after an underwhelming performance in the Challenge Cup, the Tigers came back to assert their dominance against the second best side in the league. Moments like that throughout the season are what define a side; the win against St Helens, and now this one after being knocked out of a cup they were seemingly nailed on to win.
It’s clear that they’ve got the composure and the mental fortitude to go all the way this year; other sides may have fallen away after such a tough loss, still feeling the effects of the congested bank holiday weekend period, but it’s just not in Castleford’s nature this year. In the past few weeks they’ve taken on St Helens with a largely understrength side and won, and now they’ve come back from a devastating loss in the Challenge Cup to comprehensively beat the next best side in the league. They’re going all the way this year.
Leeds Rhinos (6) 12
Tries: Handley, Cuthbertson Goals: Sutcliffe 2
Castleford Tigers (8) 23
Tries: Eden, Hardaker, Millington Goals: Gale 5 Drop goal: Gale