McGuire keeps Leeds fighting on both fronts

Castleford 6 Leeds 38
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The Independent Online

Leeds showed few signs of having their minds on Wembley as they made short work of a Castleford side who might have thought that last night was not a bad time to play them.

The champions still have a top four place to play for and they showed that Super League remains a priority, if not the priority.

Even without their rested captain, Kevin Sinfield, and with Jamie Peacock and Luke Burgess taken off injured they had more than enough agility from the likes of Rob Burrow and Danny McGuire to persistently wrong-foot some leaden defence.

Peacock is expected to recover relatively quickly from a knock to the knee but Burgess was taken to hospital with a suspected broken jaw. "We're all devastated for him," said his coach, Brian McClennan.

Not everything changes in rugby league and one thing that remains the same is that it is rare for a side to be at its best after winning a Challenge Cup semi-final. That adage only applied to Leeds in the first minutes at The Jungle and even then they got both wingers, Scott Donald and Ryan Hall, across the try-line without them being able to touch down. The Rhinos then shook off any Cup hangover with two tries in five minutes, the first set up by Greg Eastwood and McGuire and finished off by the youngster Chris Clarkson.

McGuire popped up again after 19 minutes, capitalising on Matt Diskin's break when the hooker went straight through Craig Huby's tackle attempt.

Cas were let down by their tackling when the diminutive Burrow ducked between two high challenges to scamper away for the third try. The pressure the home side exerted did disturb Leeds' composure, and Ali Lauitiiti got himself placed on report for a high tackle on Stuart Jones.

Lauitiiti was in more constructive mode in scoring Leeds' fourth try. Ryan McGoldrick then threw an interception pass to Hall for the winger to race away to score. Donald was the next to cross. Steve Snitch got one back for Cas, but they were never in contention and were punished again for their defensive failings by Hall before the end.

*Super League's Magic Weekend hoes back to Cardiff's Millennium Stadium next year, with the seven games opening the season there on 12 and 13 February.

Castleford: McGoldrick; Dixon, Shenton, Arundel, Wainwright; Westerman, Chase; Huby, Hudson, Sargent, Snitch, Clayton, Ferres. Substitutes used: Jones, Widders, Walker, Higgins.

Leeds: Webb; Donald, Senior, Smith, Hall; McGuire, Burrow; Leuluai, Diskin, Peacock, Kirke, Eastwood, Clarkson. Substitutes used: McShane, Burgess, Jones-Buchanan, Lauitiiti.

Referee: R Silverwood (Mirfield).

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