Tigers run riot against sorry Rhinos
Zak Hardaker enjoyed a memorable reunion with parent club Leeds Rhinos as Super League leaders Castleford Tigers ran riot at The Jungle, winning 66-10.
Leeds coach Brian McDermott labelled Cas the best side in the opening rounds of the 2017 season and they lived up to that tag with some sensational attacking rugby on Thursday.
Castleford's fast transition from defence to attack regularly caught the Rhinos out, and the speed of passing and precise kicking piled the misery on Leeds.
Wingers Greg Eden and Greg Minikin began the rout as they shared four tries in the opening 23 minutes, Hardaker - on loan from the Rhinos - playing a pivotal role in Minikin's second in a sublime break with Eden.
The Tigers had racked up 30 points by the break as Minikin completed his hat-trick and Mike McMeeken crossed after a devastating break from Hardaker from his own try line.
Four minutes after the restart the 25-year-old had his moment in the spotlight as Luke Gale's delayed pass opened up a gap, Hardaker duly accepting to extend Cas' lead.
Leeds eventually got on the board as Anthony Mullally touched down but nothing could stop it being a humiliating night as Jake Webster, Michael Shenton, Luke Gale and Eden - who joined Minikin in scoring a hat-trick - wrapped up a comprehensive win that sends a message to the rest of the Super League.
Thursday's other clash was as equally one-sided as Hull FC trounced Huddersfield Giants 48-8 at the John Smith's Stadium.
In similar fashion to proceedings at The Jungle, Hull dominated the entire 80 minutes and ran in four tries in the first half - Marc Sneyd crossing twice and kicking all four scores.
They repeated their 24-point haul after the restart as Sneyd completed his hat-trick, and Fetuli Talanoa and Albert Kelly scored their second tries in a comprehensive win.
FULL-TIME! A dominant performance by Hull, with Sneyd bagging a hat trick & 100% with the boot and Kelly helping himself to two tries. pic.twitter.com/EabDRZFJBm-- Hull FC (@hullfcofficial) March 2, 2017