The lack of depth in Raper's squad was exposed as Leeds, making light of their own injury list, swept them aside in front of another big crowd at Headingley last night. They are closing in on Bradford and St Helens at the top of Super League and, in this mood, it is hard to imagine them not catching them.
Despite the absence of half a dozen injured regulars, Castleford began full of vigour and purpose. They shocked Leeds by taking a lead in the sixth minute, the in-form Dean Sampson standing in the tackle and throwing out a pass to Danny Orr, who romped through an unusually disorganised home defence for the opening try.
Orr also contributed the goal and Cas continued to look well drilled and dangerous until the turning point of the half when Sampson was sent to the sin-bin for holding down Terry Newton after 18 minutes.
Iestyn Harris put over the penalty but that was only the start of the damage for the short-handed visitors. Twice during Sampson's exile, Leeds elected to run the ball on the last tackle and twice they came up with a try. Harris jinked over for the first and it was Daryl Powell's pass that set up Andy Hay, called up for Great Britain's squad this week and playing against his first club, for the second.
Sampson was back on the field but there was nothing he or anyone else could do about a stunning third. Cas were on the attack and Orr launched a high kick but Marcus St Hilaire leapt to take it in the shadow of his own post and raced 90 yards for an unforgettable effort.
Their next was as good in its way, Kevin Sinfield with a defence-splitting run and pass and Leroy Rivett skipping round Danny Ellison with embarrassing ease. Harris completed a sequence of five tries in 16 minutes by lunging over before half-time.
The one-way traffic continued at the start of the second half with the centre, Marvin Golden, touching down twice in five minutes. The feeling that Castleford were being swept away by a deluge was given further expression when a pitchside sprinkler burst into life as Leeds reached 40 points.
Suitably refreshed, Cas managed tries from Darren Rogers, Jon Wells and Michael Eagar, but they had already been comprehensively swamped and tries from Paul Sterling and Golden - his hat-trick - took Leeds to their half century.
Leeds Rhinos: St Hilaire; Rivett, Golden, Cummins, Sterling; Powell, Harris; McDermott, Newton, Farrell, Sinfield, Hay, Glanville. Substitutes used: Mathiou, Jackson, Morley, Pratt.
Castleford Tigers: Flowers; Wells, Rogers, Gay, Ellison; Eagar, Orr; Sampson, Hepi, Sykes, Tallec, Hill, Fritz. Substitutes used: Lynch, Raper, Dobson, Smith.
Referee: J Connolly (Wigan).Reuse content