The Tigers scored 18 unanswered points to banish memories of last season’s 76-12 defeat, and secure their first win at Headingley since 2002.
The first 20 minutes were an attritional affair with the Tigers defence keeping Leeds at bay despite a wealth of possession and territory. The Rhinos seemed devoid of any real impetus and guile in attack but finally found a way through the Castleford defence when a Kevin Sinfield grubber slid past the Tigers defence with Danny McGuire touching down.
The Tigers, who had not really posed a serious threat to the Leeds line up until now, hit back only minutes later when centre James Evans latched onto a Brent Sherwin chip to score in the corner, prop Craig Huby added the extras with Joe Westerman off the field.
The try galvanised the Rhinos once more and after a sustained period of pressure again breached the Tigers defence when Jamie Jones-Buchanan managed to squeeze out an offload with four Castleford defenders in attention to McGuire, who left Brett Delaney the simplest of finishes to mark his home debut with a try.
If the first half was a cagey affair, the second half began with a bang. On only the third play of the half, Diskin spotted a rare gap in the Tigers defence and raced through. With men in support Diskin handed the ball to Jones-Buchanan who didn’t have the pace to go all the way.
That was a good as it got for the Rhinos, who’s night was made worse with injuries to both Carl Ablett and Brett Delaney. A relieving penalty put Castleford into Leeds territory, who after forcing a repeat set, went ahead for the first time in the game when Brent Sherwin’s reverse pass put Westerman clean through, and the youngsters powered his way over to the right of the posts, before slotting the conversion.
The Tigers were firmly in the ascendancy and when Rangi Chase slid the ball under the sticks for Sherwin to score, the game looked to be as good as over.
As the game entered the dying minutes, Leeds tried to conjure up one last effort but knocked on when again in a decent position.
Dean Widders sealed the win for Castleford at the end of the game, running through a big hole in the Leeds line and scoring in the corner. Westerman added the extras from the touchline, and the Tiger start Super League XV with a memorable, and deserved win.
Meanwhile, Leeds will be hoping to hit some form ahead of the upcoming World Club Challenge against the Melbourne Storm.