Ash Handley reached a century of tries for the Rhinos as they fought back from being behind at the break to take victory in the last game of Day 1 of Magic Weekend at St James’ Park

Last Updated: 09/07/22 9:55pm

Ash Handley's milestone try helped Leeds to victory over Castleford

Ash Handley’s milestone try helped Leeds to victory over Castleford

Ash Handley’s 100th try in a Leeds Rhinos shirt helped his side keep their Betfred Super League play-off hopes alive with a 34-20 win over Castleford Tigers at Magic Weekend.

Tries from Jake Mamo and Bureta Faraimo put Castleford into a 10-6 lead at half-time after Matt Prior had opened the scoring for the Rhinos, but it was pretty much all Leeds after the break.

Handley sparked a run of five tries without reply on the resumption as he hit the century mark, with Aidan Sezer, Richie Myler, James Bentley and Liam Sutcliffe all crossing as well, with Faraimo’s second and one from Mahe Fonua providing scant consolation for the Tigers.

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The win made it back-to-back successes for Rohan Smith’s side and lifted them to within a point of sixth-placed Hull FC, who face cross-city rival Hull Kingston Rovers on Day 2 in Newcastle.

Story of the game

The teams may be rivals on the field, but they came together for this match as well by wearing special kits dedicated to the Pontefract-born Rhinos great Rob Burrow, whose children designed Leeds’ shirt and accompanied both teams onto the field ahead of kick-off.

When play did get underway it was a fairly even start to the contest, but it was Leeds who went in front with 13 minutes on the clock as the ageless Prior fended off a tackle attempt to score with Rhyse Martin adding the extras.

But Castleford were back on level terms nine minutes later with an attack which started in their own half and sent Faraimo racing away down the right wing. He then came up with a superb kick infield under pressure and centre Mamo was there to finish followed by Danny Richardson converting.

Jake Mamo's try helps close the gap between Castleford and the Leeds Rhinos.

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Jake Mamo’s try helps close the gap between Castleford and the Leeds Rhinos.

Jake Mamo’s try helps close the gap between Castleford and the Leeds Rhinos.

Niall Evalds returned to Castleford’s starting line-up for the 200th match of his career, while Greg Eden lined up in the halves and Adam Milner started at hooker in the absence of Paul McShane.

Blake Austin was ruled out for Leeds with a leg injury, so Corey Johnson was pressed into service in the halves alongside Aidan Sezer.

Mamo was nearly in again in the 25th minute after a superb interception from Richardson who in turn released the Australian. However, he lost possession after being tackled and the chance was gone.

Nonetheless, it was the Tigers who scored next to lead by four points at the break and this time it was Faraimo who got the finishing touch as the USA international forced his way over wide on the right for an unconverted 38th-minute try.

However, three tries inside the first 20 minutes of the second half swung the match firmly in favour of Leeds, starting in the 46th minute when they worked the ball out wide to the left for Sutcliffe to send Handley over for his milestone score.

Then it was the turn of Sezer to cross, running the ball on the last tackle and using his strength to force his way through four would-be Castleford tacklers and get the ball down for a third converted try on 55 minutes.

Ash Handley scores his 100th try for the Leeds Rhinos against Castleford,

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Ash Handley scores his 100th try for the Leeds Rhinos against Castleford,

Ash Handley scores his 100th try for the Leeds Rhinos against Castleford,

Castleford Tigers: Tries – Bureta Faraimo (2), Jake Mamo, Mahe Fonua; Goals – Danny Richardson (2).

Leeds Rhinos: Try – Matt Prior, Ash Handley, Aidan Sezer, Richie Myler, James Bentley, Liam Sutcliffe; Goals – Rhyse Martin (5).

Three minutes later, Sutcliffe was involved again as he put through a kick for Myler to latch onto and score from, followed in the 64th minute by Bentley hitting a great line to power over under the posts to give Martin a simple conversion.

Centre Sutcliffe then got on the scoresheet himself to put the seal on the win for the Rhinos, although Faraimo grabbed a second for the Tigers followed by Mahe Fonua going over late on after Sezer was sin-binned for a high tackle, they were well beaten.

What they said

Leeds Rhinos head coach Rohan Smith

Leeds Rhinos head coach Rohan Smith says his team still have a lot of work to do despite winning comfortably against Castleford Tigers.

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Leeds Rhinos head coach Rohan Smith says his team still have a lot of work to do despite winning comfortably against Castleford Tigers.

Leeds Rhinos head coach Rohan Smith says his team still have a lot of work to do despite winning comfortably against Castleford Tigers.

“I really liked how we played. We were tough when we needed to and found a few points on the back of carrying hard. I thought our discipline and composure were particularly good today.”

Castleford Tigers head coach Lee Radford

Castleford Tigers head coach Lee Radford says his team kept swinging as they lost to Leeds Rhinos.

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Castleford Tigers head coach Lee Radford says his team kept swinging as they lost to Leeds Rhinos.

Castleford Tigers head coach Lee Radford says his team kept swinging as they lost to Leeds Rhinos.

“The game could have got away from us when you look how jaded and tired we are, but we kept swinging. As busted and broken as we are, I thought they still dug in there.

What’s next?

Leeds are back in action next Saturday when they travel to bottom side Toulouse Olympique (6pm UK time), while Castleford face Warrington Wolves earlier in the day (3pm) live on Sky Sports.