Super 8s: Castleford Tigers 38-24 Leeds Rhinos
|Castleford (30) 38|
|Tries: Eden, Roberts 2, Webster, Foster, Minikin Goals: Gale 7|
|Leeds (6) 24|
|Tries: Watkins, Jones-Buchanan, Parcell, Garbutt Goals: Watkins 4|
Castleford Tigers moved 12 points clear at the top of Super League with an eighth straight victory - and fourth win this season - against Leeds Rhinos.
Leeds scored the opening try but were unable to compete with the Tigers' five-try first-period display inspired by two scores from Ben Roberts.
Again the Rhinos made the breakthrough after the break, but Greg Minikin's effort restored the Tigers' lead.
Matt Parcell and Mitch Garbutt tries showed Leeds' heart but Cas held on.
Leeds are Castleford's closest challengers in the league in second place, but the gulf between them was again apparent at times as Daryl Powell's pacesetters survived early scores in each half to secure the two points.
Rhinos centre Kallum Watkins' 100th Super League try was a bittersweet one as it gave Leeds early hope, but once Greg Eden had crossed for his 40th score in all competitions this season, Cas hit their stride.
Roberts' double, to add to Jake Webster and Alex Foster scores, pulled the game away from Leeds and not even Jamie Jones-Buchanan and Parcell scores after the break could turn the tide.
Castleford head coach Daryl Powell said: "I thought in the second half, we were really poor. I thought there was a period in the first half where we were outstanding, but I thought we played well for about 25 minutes.
"I thought we went home at half-time. I thought we did mentally and that isn't going to be good enough. Obviously, we won the game and we are happy with the two points but, yeah, not a great finish to the game.
"We panicked a little bit, they were playing hot and we were defending frantically and that hurt us a little bit. We just didn't really have any control and I think there is a lesson there for us."
Leeds head coach Brian McDermott said: "I thought we did enough in the second half to leave with an element of pride, but I have been in this situation before, here, and we didn't have a response in the second half.
"Clearly Castleford were just too good for us in the first half, and looking at them, with a couple of games to go, it's going to take an incredible team to stop them, and getting to the Grand Final and winning it.
"I also recognise that they aren't running out of steam are they? I think everyone is still trying to catch up to them, they seem to be able to play freely without pressure."
Castleford Tigers: Hardaker; Minikin, Webster, Shenton, Eden; Roberts, Gale; Sene-Lefao, McShane, Massey, Foster, McMeeken, Milner.
Replacements: Millington, Moors, Springer, Patrick.
Leeds Rhinos: Walker; Briscoe, Watkins, Sutcliffe, Hall; McGuire, Lilley; Garbutt, Parcell, Singleton, Ward, Jones-Buchanan, Cuthbertson.
Replacements: Mullally, Keinhorst, Ablett, Golding.