Here are three talking points from Headingley as Castleford powered past Toronto in their first-ever Super League game.
Toronto’s leaky goal-line defence needs fixing
In a game where possession and territory are against you, any good side needs strong scrambling defence to keep themselves in the game. In today’s game – particularly the first half – Toronto had precisely the opposite.
The Tigers’ speed around the ruck caused a whole host of problems throughout, but even then they were giving a huge helping hand by the size of gaps appearing in the Toronto rearguard. Daryl Powell may have been surprised by how easily his side, led by the impressive spine of Jordan Rankin, Jake Trueman and Danny Richardson, managed to carve their way through, time after time. Brian McDermott knows he has a job to do to get his team’s defence up to scratch quickly.
Sonny Bill stifled on debut
Much of the fanfare ahead of this game centred around the Super League debut of New Zealand star Sonny Bill Williams. He started on the bench for the Wolfpack, but when he entered the action midway through the first-half, he struggled to dent Castleford in the manner he would’ve liked.
His first touch of the ball resulted in a knock-on following some miscommunication with Gadwin Springer. His second carry also resulted in an error. The pleasing thing for the Wolfpack will have been SBW’s ability to play big minutes, and although he looked like a handy asset in defence, the World Cup winner will be hoping to be more of a force at the other end, once he begins to establish more of an understanding with his team-mates.
Off-the-cuff or keep it simple?
En-route to Super League, Toronto were notorious for their quick, expansive brand of rugby. Having scored 30 or more points in 19 of their games last year, their style of play clearly worked in the second division. They tried to replicate it here against the Tigers, but every mistake was seemingly pounced upon by more ruthless opposition than the Wolfpack are used to.
Castleford are known for attractive rugby themselves, and there was a clear gulf in quality and understanding when it came to executing their plays. Whether or not it was nerves or just a lack of cutting edge, the Wolfpack need to start being more clinical if they are to make an impression on Super League.