Castleford provided a timely reminder of their credentials as they thrashed Leeds 38-10 to round off day one of the 2018 Magic Weekend.
Last season’s runaway league leaders haven’t yet hit those same heights this term, but this was in parts a performance just as dominant.
The game was all but over at half time as the Tigers led 22-0, and though Leeds slowed them down and added a score of their own in the early exchanges of the second half, there was only one winner.
The left wing was the source of tries aplenty for the Tigers in 2017 and they opened the scoring down that side in this one, Jy Hitchcox throwing a nice step to get past Kallum Watkins and cross in the corner, Jamie Ellis converting from wide out for 6-0.
Former Leeds man Alex Foster crashed over the line for a second try on 19 minutes and his rampaging run put them on the front foot again as the half drew on.
A Watkins penalty for holding on enabled Ellis to nudge the score out to 14-0 before a third try was added prior to the interval, Junior Moors spinning out of a tackle off the back of a scrum play to just about get the ball over the line.
Castleford extended that lead to 22-0 by half time, Ellis kicking a mammoth penalty from inside his own half after Matt Parcell was penalised for ripping the ball out in the tackle.
After a streaker had briefly delayed the start of the second half, Castleford resumed the scoring when Jake Trueman’s inside pass was taken by Michael Shenton, who turned out of a tackle to reach over the line.
Leeds rallied, and after they had been denied their opening try through Parcell due to obstruction, big prop Mikolaj Oledzki stormed out of two tackles to cross for his first Super League try.
But that proved to be a mere blip in a comfortable win for Castleford.
Shortly after the hour mark, Adam Milner stormed on to a flat ball from Liam Watts and Ellis converted for 34-6.
Oliver Holmes burst through down the left for another score and it looked like getting ugly for the Rhinos, but that proved to be Castleford’s final scoring play.
Mike McMeeken finished the match in the sinbin for throwing the ball away, and Leeds would ultimately have the final say through Brett Ferres’ late consolation.
Castleford: Shenton, Minikin, Webster, Wardle, Hitchcox, Ellis, Trueman, Watts, McShane, Sene-Lefao, Foster, McMeeken, Milner. Subs: Moors, Millington, Holmes, Massey.
Leeds: Walker, Briscoe, Watkins, Handley, Hall, Moon, Myler, Oledzki, Parcell, Peteru, Jones-Buchanan, Ward, Delaney. Subs: Cuthbertson, Dwyer, Ferres, Smith.
Star Man: Young half-back Jake Trueman oozed class alongside Jamie Ellis as Castleford moved in to the top four, for 24 hours at least.