Castleford’s Jake Trueman and Jese Sene-Lafao grabbed two tries each as the Tigers put Leeds to the sword in Kevin Sinfield’s first game as director of rugby at the club.
Leeds’ woes looked to have been forgotten as the Rhinos sprinted to a 10-4 lead after 17 minutes, two early tries from winger Tom Briscoe setting the pace. However, it was downhill from that point on as the Tigers posted 38 unanswered points.
Greg Eden hit the ground running following a four-week absence through injury, scoring the Tigers first try in-between Briscoe’s double yet, for all Castleford’s dominance in the first half, it wouldn’t tell on the scoreboard.
That was until the 25th minute, when the pressure eventually told and the Tigers hit Leeds with two tries in five minutes through Quentin Laulu-Togaga’e and Matt Cook to take the lead for the first time in the game.
16-10 at the break, the game was balanced nicely but needed someone to step up and take control. Enter Jake Trueman. The teenage half-back scored two near identical tries, jinking his way through the Rhinos defence, to put the home side in charge of the contest.
Trueman continued to torment the Rhinos, setting up Jesse Sene-Lefao with a well weighted kick through, before the forward scored his second by charging his way over the line with just 5 minutes remaining to wrap up the win and rub salt into the wounds of their West Yorkshire rivals.
WHAT WE’VE LEARNED
Lilley to take centre stage?
Injuries may have played a part in his return to the squad but academy product Jordan Lilley could be set for an important role under the Sinfield-Lowes management.
Throughout the year Lilley has struggled for game time, going out on loan Leigh as well as featuring for Featherstone on dual-registration, but today he was thrust into the starting line-up in a move which saw Joel Moon back out to centre.
With Sinfield’s ex-teammate Danny McGuire sending a reminder of his talents on the same day, it begs the question does Lilley have what it takes to give Leeds what they lost when McGuire departed at the end of 2017?
Castleford quietly going about their business.
As last year’s exploits set such a high benchmark, it would have been near impossible for the Tigers to replicate the feat, even without the disruptions faced this year.
Yet, even without a regular fullback and unsettled half-back partnerships, the Tigers have slowly climbed the table and now sit pretty in third spot.
Grabbing the headlines a little less may help the Tigers as the pressure of the playoffs is somewhat lifted, giving time for Eden to get back in form which could give the Tigers a great chance of pulling off a surprise in the late stages of the season.
Man Of The Match- Jake Trueman (Castleford Tigers)
After losing Zak Hardaker to a long-term ban, the last thing the Tigers needed was mercurial half Luke Gale to suffer a long-term injury. Yet in his absence, another star has been uncovered.
Still finding his feet in first grade, Trueman has started to play with the confidence to match his obvious talent. Registering two tries and three assists he became the difference when it mattered most for the Tigers, and contributing heavily to yet another Tigers win over Leeds can only be a positive step in his development.
Tries: Trueman x2, Sene-Lefao x2, Cook, Eden, Laulu-Togagae
Goals: Ellis x7
Drop Goals: n/a
Tries: Briscoe x2
Goals: Sutcliffe x1
Drop Goals: n/a
Castleford: Clare, Clark, Cook, Eden, Egodo, Ellis, Holmes, Laulu-Togaga’e, Massey, McShane, Millington, Milner, Moors, Sene-Lefao, Shenton, Springer, Trueman, Watts, Webster.
Leeds: Golding, Briscoe, Sutcliffe, Hall, Moon, Myler, Cuthbertson, Parcell, Singleton, Ward, Dwyer, Delaney, Mullally, Ferres, Walker, Lilley, Smith, Oledzki, Walters.