Betfred Super League
Fri 22nd Sep 2023 KO: 20:00 RD: 27
OFFICIAL: James Anthony VELLA
David Fusitua x3
Rhyse Martin x7
Leeds Rhinos gave their fans one last hurrah in 2023 as they closed out the season with a resounding 46-0 win against Castleford Tigers under the lights at Headingley.
David Fusitu’a’s hat trick stole the show on the night, whilst Luke Hooley, Jack Sinfield, Derrell Olpherts, Sam Lisone and Sam Walters, on his final Leeds appearance, got over the try line in the Yorkshire derby win.
For his final squad of the season, Smith made changes from the defeat to Catalans last time out. Sam Walters returned from his one-match suspension to play his final game for the Rhinos, having come through the ranks since signing for the club’s Academy in 2019. Debuts were also given to Alfie Edgell and Tom Nicholson-Watton as the duo were named on the bench by Smith. Edgell played his part in Leeds’ Academy Grand Final win 12 months ago and earned his chance in the first team along with Nicholson-Watton, who is also an Academy product. Tom Holroyd (knee) and Cameron Smith (elbow) missed out through injury.
With the fireworks getting the Headingley crowd in full voice from kick-off, the Rhinos gave them a first half full of tries. The Tigers worked some early pressure close to the Leeds line before the Rhinos countered off the back of a knock-on by Greg Eden. Sam Walters, Rhyse Martin and Jack Sinfield all got close but a wide move found James McDonnell in no man's land and the ball was turned over.
Castleford’s defence cracked on twelve minutes when Luke Hooley broke the Rhinos’ try draught with a well-worked effort. Back-to-back sets on the Tigers line saw Danny Ward’s side struggle to contain the work of Harry Newman and company, who were finding pockets of space to make yards. As the ball was swung to the left through the hands of Walters and Martin to Luke Hooley, the Leeds full-back threw an outrageous dummy before diving through a confused Cas defence to score the opener.
The visitors got their first scoring chance when Liam Horne made a dive out of dummy half only to be held up by a desperate Leeds defence. The Rhinos smelled danger and got themselves further ahead with David Fusitu’a. Another penalty against the Tigers gifted territory to the home side and they benefited as quick thinking from Newman saw the centre pass down the short side for Fusitu’a to run over Eden and score in the corner. Martin converted both tries to make the score 12-0 after 20 minutes.
The relentless first-half pressure continued as errors from the Tigers gave two more tries to the Rhinos. Off the back of Oledzki being held up from a strong charge, a knock-on by Eden gave the Rhinos a fresh set of six. They didn’t need all the tackles though as Handley and Hooley sensed a chance out wide and Derrell Olpherts was there to go round Jason Qareqare and stretch out to put the ball on the try line.
Then, after he had put a poor kick up for Fusitu’a to deal with, Jack Sinfield got his first try for the Rhinos in Super League as the 19-year old jumped out of the defensive line to intercept Jacob Miller’s pass and score under the posts as the half came to a close. Martin got his third kick from four attempts to give Smith’s side a confident 22-0 lead at the break.
The second half couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start for the Tigers when Broadbent knocked on from the restart. With instant possession, Sinfield got his kick on target for Fusitu’a who rose up higher than Eden to claim and score his second of the game.
Tempers flared when Liam Watts and Lisone came together after the Castleford prop hit Sinfield late, and the pair were sent to the sin bin. As Leeds got the penalty for the late hit, they found themselves back on the Tigers try line and Fusitu’a was able to crown his 150th career appearance with his hat trick try, thanks to an offload from McDonnell and flick-on from Newman.
Now six tries up, the wind was truly in Leeds’ sails and restored to thirteen with Lisone returning to the field, the prop got over as he supported Sinfield’s darting run on the last tackle. Man of the match Walters joined in the try-scoring antics too as Hooley found a hole behind tired Cas markers to set up Walters for a try on his Headingley farewell.
Ward’s side thought that they had broken their duck with under ten minutes remaining as Horne looked to dive on a kick from Austin, but the referee disallowed the try to keep the Tigers scoreless. Lawler’s late charge was held up too, capping off the 46-0 result for the Rhinos.
21. Luke Hooley, 2. David Fusitu’a, 3. Harry Newman, 5. Ash Handley, 16. Derrell Olpherts, 12. Rhyse Martin, 29. Jack Sinfield, 8. Mikolaj Oledzki, 14. Jarrod O’Connor, 22. Sam Walters, 20. Morgan Gannon, 19. James McDonnell, 25. James Donaldson
Subs: 34. Alfie Edgell (Debut), 15. Sam Lisone, 36. Tom Nicholson-Watton (Debut), 26. Corey Johnson (18th Man – Riley Lumb)
Tries: Hooley (12), Fusitu’a (19, 42, 46), Olpherts (29), Sinfield (36), Lisone (57), Walters (68)
Goals: Martin 6/7
Sin Bin: Lisone (45)
47. Fletcher Rooney, 31. Jason Qareqare, 17. Jack Broadbent, 3. Jordan Turner, 2. Greg Eden, 46. Blake Austin, 7. Jacob Miller, 23. Suaia Matagi, 45. Liam Horne, 14. Nathan Massey, 11. Kenny Edwards, 12. Alex Mellor, 8. George Lawler
Subs: 20. Muizz Mustapha, 25. Brad Martin, 28. Sam Hall, 32. Liam Watts (18th Man – 41. Jordan Johnstone)
Sin Bin: Watts (45)