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Leeds Rhinos

2017 Super League Champions

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Castleford Tigers v Leeds Rhinos, Thursday 2nd March, kick off 8pm

26th February 2017

By Leeds Rhinos

The Rhinos travel to the Mend-A-Hose Jungle on Thursday to face Daryl Powell’s high flying Castleford Tigers side.

The Tigers have been widely tipped to reach their first ever Grand Final in 2017 after impressing last season when they missed out on a semi final spot by one place in the Super 8s.

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The much publicised and, as yet, still unresolved departure of Denny Solomona to the other code has not upset the Tigers plans however. Zak Hardaker joined on loan from the Rhinos after a spell in the NRL with Penrith with Greg Eden following a similar path after his time in Brisbane.

Luke Gale scored 24 points as Castleford Tigers condemned Leigh Centurions to a 44-16 defeat on the opening day of the season. The England international scored two tries and kicked eight goals to ensure the Tigers hit the ground running at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle.

The Centurions were out of the game by half-time as the stylish hosts opened up a 26-0 lead following a brace of tries from Greg Minikin and further scores from Gale, who also booted a penalty, and Jesse Sene-Lefao. Junior Moors and Gale went over in the second half before new winger Eden marked his debut with a try.

? @CTRLFC'S @snozzer_gale welcomed Leigh to Super League by scoring 24 points

Here is every single one of the 2???4??? #DifferentLeague pic.twitter.com/RPNLIbVqLJ

— Betfred Super League (@SuperLeague) February 13, 2017

The Tigers returned to action last weekend with an impressive win at Warrington after a week off for the World Club Series. Castleford underlined their Betfred Super League top-four credentials with an impressive 30-22 victory against the Wolves.

Daryl Powell's side blew the hosts, who beat Brisbane Broncos in the Dacia World Club Series, away in a rampant nine-minute first-half spell when they scored four times to open up a 22-6 lead.

After Andre Savelio touched down from a kick in the sixth minute, the Tigers came roaring back courtesy of some fast-flowing expansive rugby league. Jesse Sene-Lefao barged over, Zak Hardaker finished off a fine break from Mike McMeeken and, after a flying finish from Greg Eden in the corner, the former Leeds Rhinos full-back laid a try on a plate for Luke Gale.

Greg Minikin scored an excellent try with 17 minutes remaining and, although Savelio got a second for the hosts to set up a nervy finish, Eden went over in the corner to seal the win for the Tigers.

From one end to the other in just 15 seconds ?

Surely this effort from @CTRLFC's @snozzer_gale will be a contender for Try of the Season! pic.twitter.com/I4wWBdtzMF

— Betfred Super League (@SuperLeague) February 25, 2017

In: Zak Hardaker (Leeds Rhinos, loan), Larne Patrick (Huddersfield Giants), Greg Eden (Brisbane Broncos), Jesse Sene-Lefao (Cronulla Sharks), Tuoyo Egodo (London Broncos), Dan Igbinedion (Oxford RL).
Out: Denny Solomona (Sale Sharks), Luke Dorn (Retired), Frankie Mariano (Featherstone Rovers), Lee Jewitt (Townsville Blackhawks), Ryan Boyle (Halifax RLFC), Ben Crooks (Leigh Centurions, loan).

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Castleford Tigers 66 Leeds Rhinos 10

2nd March 2017

By Leeds Rhinos

The Rhinos endured a nightmare night at the Jungle as the early league leaders proved unstoppable for the visitors in a 66-10 loss.

The Rhinos were forced to reshuffle before the game when Rob Burrow was ruled out through illness. That meant Jordan Lilley, who had trained with Bradford Bulls on the morning of the game, returned to the club from his loan spell at Odsal to start on the bench.
Without seven players through injury and Carl Ablett suspended, it was always going to be a tough night against an in form Tigers outfit but the home side were in a ruthless mood and they punished every error from the Rhinos in the first half to take a commanding 30-0 lead at the break.
When Ashton Golding lost control of the ball in the slippery conditions in the tackle near his line, the Tigers sensed their first chance to strike. The ball was moved wide and Greg Eden dived in to score in the corner. Gale missed the conversion attempt but his side had made the perfect start.
Leeds seemed to have settled the game down after that but the home side struck again after 13 minutes. Adam Cuthbertson was penalised at the ruck and the Tigers kept the ball alive before a wide pass released Greg Minikin to score the first of his three first half tries.
Five minutes later, Liam Sutcliffe spilled a pass 20 metres from the Castleford line and the home side immediately went on the counter attack. The Rhinos managed to stop them but were penalised and two tackles later Minikin was in again.
Castleford made back to back errors in their next possessions but Leeds were unable to punish them and they hit back when Golding was stripped of the ball one on one by Paul McShane. The Tigers flooded through in attack and eventually Eden went in for his second try.
Lilley came on midway through the first half but he faced a Castleford team who were running red hot. His kick to the in goal on the last tackle looked a good option but it was picked up and offloaded to Zak Hardaker who was finally hauled down on halfway. Castleford though sensed a fifth try and it was England squad member Mike McMeeken who went over. Gale converted the last try having missed the previous two and his side led 24-0 after 34 minutes.
There was still time left for Castleford to add another before half time and Gale created it with a break before kicking to the corner as he was tackled for Minikin to pick up and dive over for his hat trick. Gale added the conversion to complete the first half onslaught at 30-0 at the interval.
Leeds needed to find a foothold early in the second half but they suffered a sucker punch at the start of the half. Lilley had attempted an offload 20 metres from his line and Castleford made the possession count as Zak Hardaker chimed into the line to go through the gap and score.
The lead was increased further soon after when Jimmy Keinhorst shot out to get the interception but the pass evaded him and Paul McShane went over for the score. Gale converted both to extend his side’s lead to 42-0.
The Rhinos managed to finally get over when the video referee awarded a score to Anthony Mullally when a high Lilley kick was spilled and the forward kicked the ball onto the post before diving over to score. Liam Sutcliffe added the conversion for the visitors.
However, it was cold comfort for the army of Leeds fans who had made their way to the Jungle as the home side continued their ruthless streak.
Jake Webster was next to cross for Castleford before Eden completed his hat trick to take his side through the half century mark.
Gale converted both tries and then raced from distance to score himself in the corner, which he also converted.
The half back could do no wrong and then proceeded to kick a 40:20 to put his side in a position for skipper Michael Shenton to score, which he again converted.
Joel Moon crossed late on for Leeds but it was a miserable night for the men from Headingley as they suffered their biggest defeat in the summer era. 

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