RUGBY LEAGUE expert Kaine Greenwood (@RetroPress) delivers his verdict on Thursday night’s contest between Castleford and Leeds.
Castleford Tigers v Leeds Rhinos | Thursday 20.00 | Sky Sports 2
There is a reduced capacity at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle for this clash with Leeds Rhinos due to an issue with ‘crash barriers'.
Now while this clearly illustrates the home side have the wrong sponsor it may also mean they don't have the protection to put the buffers on the Rhinos, who are starting to find form.
The stability of that logic probably rates as well as the Castleford’s own defences in their last game away to Warrington – a 56-12 defeat that saw an efficient Wolves setup blow away the Tigers in the first 40 minutes.
This was the third defeat on the trot for Daryl Powell's men and prompted the coach to state: “We've got a lot to do after last week to get some pride back“.
There is usually a response from the WF10 outfit in the wake of tough results and after having what the coach claims was “an honest week”, Castleford will look to the fact they have not lost four straight games in the same season since Powell arrived.
The result at the Halliwell Jones could be considered as an anomaly – the Tigers have only lost five by a 30-plus margin in the last 49 matches. In games following such results, the Tigers have registered W2-D1-L2.
Back-to-back victories over the reigning champions will give belief to the home side that they can improve on that record and move closer to the top four.
Not everything favours such a result however, Castleford have lost seven of the last 10 ties between the two sides.
Leeds should finally see club captain Danny McGuire put on his boots for only the second time this season and he will add experience alongside Rob Burrow in the backline which is needed to allow the youth of Liam Sutcliffe to express his obvious talents.
The Rhinos also haven't experienced three straight defeats in this fixture since 1985.
The 123rd meeting of these West Yorkshire rivals could also see the Rhinos take advantage of injury concerns for Cas with Ben Roberts coming into this clash with a knock and Junior Moors, Oliver Holmes, Luke Dorn, Micheal Shenton, Matt Cook (suspended) all missing.
Leeds do have to contend with the fact Ryan Hall is a major doubt but fellow winger Tom Briscoe is in the squad and could take a jersey after a long lay-off with a broken leg.
The return of McGuire and spells of productivity over the last few weeks in 30-18 and 20-16 wins over St. Helens and Huddersfield would lend itself to the view the Rhinos take the outright victory.
The selection here can't be the Rhinos at around 1/2 though as Castleford are looking for a response to three poor results and usually match well in more significant fixtures. So instead we’ll head to punt based on the points market with a feeling the two sides may battle out a to-and-fro affair.
In all meetings (24) since 2006 Leeds have managed to amass 791 points giving them an average of 32.95 points-per-game.
In seven ties under the management of Powell, the Tigers have shipped at least 22 points to their neighbours on every occasion and have yet to experience a win on their home patch.
It is therefore wise to settle on Brian McDermott's men continuing their winning form and to do so with a number of points by scoring Over 26.5 Points at 4/5 (Bet365).
Castleford Tigers v Leeds Rhinos – Leeds Rhinos to score Over 26.5 Points (4/5 Bet365)
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