Castleford 14-8 Leeds: Five takeaways as Tigers claim first win of the season

Josh McAllister
Castleford Tigers, SWPix.

Picture by Allan McKenzie/

Castleford Tigers have claimed their first win of the season with a 14-8 victory over Leeds at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle.

Winger Bureta Faraimo scored twice, while half-back Gareth Widdop kicked three goals in the victory.

Here are our five takeaways from the opening Super League Round Five fixture…

Castleford’s first win of the year

Despite some clunky attack, Castleford’s performance was miles ahead of their 80-minutes previous against Huddersfield.

The hosts actually blew two chances, with Faraimo bombing a try with the line in front of him. And back-rower Alex Mellor also dropping a chance of a two-on-one. 

However, the side dug deep and found their first win of the year – with Castleford players and fans celebrating like they had just won the Grand Final after the full-time hooter.

It’s an improvement under Andy Last, who continues to insist he wants the permanent head coaching role full-time. 

Bureta Faraimo, PA Images
Picture by Richard Sellers/PA Wire/PA Images

James Bentley at 9?

With Matt Shaw breaking the shock story of Kruise Leeming’s departure from the Rhinos on Leeds Live, it saw a new face play at hooker against Castleford.

Jarrod O’Connor started the fixture at nine, with back-rower James Bentley moving into the position on the hour mark.

The side do have Corey Johnson waiting on the wings, with the youngster returning to action from injury in the reserves against Bradford.

Unconvincing attacks

Both sides were guilty for unconvincing attacks during the opening Round Five fixture.

And there were some worrying statistics heading into the game for the hosts. Gareth Widdop was yet to register a try assist, or cross for a four-pointer himself in 2023, with the side only scoring seven tries so far this season ahead of Thursday night’s clash. 

Likewise, off-season recruit Jacob Miller had only recorded one try and one assist so far in 2023. 

Castleford captain Paul McShane has also endured a quiet start to the season – with only six carries in three games, resulting in only 18 metres, ahead of the fixture with Leeds.

But, they managed to find a way against the Rhinos, with Eden assisting both tries and claiming the Player of the Match.

Fines incoming 

There’s likely to be a few fines from this derby on Monday. A few players were guilty of high shots and swinging arms, although nothing looked serious enough to cop a ban.

Derrell Olpherts gave away a penalty with a high shot on former team-mate Jason Qareqare

Blake Austin was penalised for a high tackle on Mellor – although questionable, with an argument it was around the chest.

Meanwhile, Castleford’s McShane could be charged for a swinging arm on Leeds’ Richie Myler – although the full-back was falling. 

Bentley was also penalised for a late shot that saw Castleford level the points at 6-6 on the half hour mark. 

Harry Newman’s return to play

Harry Newman did not return to action in the second half in a pre-planned move by Leeds head coach Rohan Smith.

Newman, 23, only returned to the field since his hamstring injury last week against Wakefield from the bench. And he started against Castleford in the centres, before being replaced by Luis Roberts. 

While it’s good to see Newman, one of Super League’s most talented players, back on the field, questions could be asked if it was a wasted move, with the reserves always an option for players to gain minutes. 

How it happened

  • 1’ There was an early change to Castleford’s line-up, with George Lawler dropping out of the starting side. He was replaced by 18th man Muizz Mustapah
  • 17’ Bureta Faraimo scores the game’s first after an end-to-end start to the fixtre at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle. Greg Eden, playing at full-back, with the assist. Gareth Widdop misses the conversion attempt. (4-0)
  • 24’ Faraimo bombs a chance to score again, dropping the ball with an open line in front of him. (4-0)
  • 26’ As Castleford blow a chance, Leeds take theirs. Richie Myler scores his first of the season. Rhyse Martin converts. (4-6)
  • 30’ Widdop levels the scores with a penalty conversion. (6-6)
  • 37’ Martin gives his side the lead again from the kicking tee with Castleford’s drop-out not making the needed 10 metres.
  • HT: Castleford 6-8 Leeds
  • 49’ Widdop misses a long-range effort to level the scores.
  • 56’ Faraimo eventually scores his second of the night much to the delight of the home side. Widdop converts. (12-8)
  • Widdop adds another two from a penalty. (14-8)
  • FT: Castleford 14-8 Leeds

How they lined up

Castleford: Eden, Faraimo, Broadbent, Fonua, Qareqare, Widdop, Miller, Mustapha, McShane, Massey, Milner, Mellor, Westerman. Bench: Edwards, Matagi, Watts, Smith.

Tries: Faraimo (2) Goals: Widdop 3

Leeds: Myler, Olpherts, Macdonald, Newman, Fusitu’a, Austin, Sezer, Holroyd, O’Connor, Tetevano, McDonnell, Martin, Smith. Bench: Bentley, Lisone, Roberts, Sangare. 

Tries: Myler Goals: Martin 2/2

What they said

Castleford boss Last commented on Sky Sports: “There was a real connection with the fans. They turned up in numbers and got behind us. and what they saw was a team that cares.

“The way we celebrated errors, wins, our tries, it was infectious and it spread into the terraces and that’s what the supporters want to see. 

“Personally, it (the win) means a lot. I want to thank all the backroom staff. It’s been a quite difficult couple of weeks and they way they’ve supported me has been outstanding.”

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