Leeds 18-12 Castleford

Leeds were without a full-side of players, including all seven that were involved in last night’s Test match, but battled back to beat local rivals Castleford Tigers in an enthralling game at Headingley. nnThe Rhinos, whose coach Brian McClennan handed out debuts to Danny Allan, Michael Haley and Joe Chandler, started strongly, forcing Castleford to concede seven penalties within the first 10 minutes. During that period Ali Lauitiiti missed an almost certain try, dropping the ball over the line after a short pass from Jones-Bishop. nnTigers coach Terry Matterson was also without five regular starters, with Ryan McGoldrick starting at loose forward for the first time in his Castleford career. And it was Castleford with the only try of a stop-start first half. Spreading the play across the Rhinos defence, the Tigers highlighted Leeds’ frailties as Donlan released Richard Owen to walk over on the left-hand side. Craig Huby took charge of the kicking duties but missed the attempted conversion. nnLeeds tried to respond soon after, Lee Smith breaking the line to release Danny Allan, who didn’t have the legs to beat Richard Owen, and a good opportunity was wasted. nnAfter yet another penalty, one of 17 handed out by referee Phil Bentham in the first half, Castleford extended their lead to 6-0 courtesy of Huby’s boot. Just before half-time Brent Sherwin sliced a simple drop-goal opportunity wide, but it was still the Tigers who clung on to their lead at the break.nnIn the second half it was Castleford first to score yet again. After breaking the line to race 30 metres earlier in the set, Joe Westerman scored on 47 minutes, jumping highest to reach Luke Dorn’s delightful cross-field kick. He missed his own conversion, but a 10-0 lead looked healthy against this weakened Leeds side. n nSoon after Henderson kicked through to find Adam Fletcher, but replacement Danny Williams did well out wide to force him into touch. And it was Leeds who were quick to respond. Luke Burgess off-loaded in the tackle after a good drive to find Ben Kaye. He sent a quick pass across to Worrall, who in turn released Lee Smith to finish off in good fashion. He couldn’t convert his own try, but the Rhinos had reduced the deficit, 4-10. nnAlthough Catic appeared to knock-on in the tackle, referee Bentham awarding Castleford a penalty against Matt Diskin for not releasing in the tackle. Sherwin, the third Tigers kicker of the game, missed the opportunity. Michael Korkidas was placed on report in the following set, using his forearm in the tackle as he ran into Luke Burgess. nnJust after the hour Leeds were guilty of messing around at the play-the -ball, and once again Castleford took the opportunity to kick for goal, this time reverting back to Huby who duly added to two points. But the Rhinos hit back straight after, stand-in Matt Diskin off-loading in the tackle to find the supporting Webb. Lee Smith kicked the conversion, making the score 10-12. nnThe same combination created the next score, this time Brent Webb was acting-hooker and his flat pass released Diskin who hit the gap to run in under the posts. Smith again the converter, and Leeds took the lead for the first time in the game at 16-12. nnWith six minutes to go, Michael Shenton knocked-on from a simple pass, allowing Leeds perfect field position. When Castleford were then caught offside, Matt Diskin saw the call from the bench and Lee Smith was asked to convert a simple penalty. He did so, extending Leeds’ lead to 18-12.nnLeeds managed to hold on, defending two consecutive Tigers’ sets before the hooter sounded to bring an end to a magnificent fight back. nLeeds Rhinos: Jones-Bishop, Hall, Jones-Buchanan, Smith, Donald, Allan, Webb, Leuluai, Diskin, Burgess, Lauitiiti, Bailey, Worral nSubs: Williams, Kaye, Haley, ChandlernTries: Smith (52), Webb (66), Diskin (70)nConv: Smith (66, 71)nPen: Smith (74)nnCastleford Tigers: Donlan, Fletcher, Shenton, Owen, Wainwright, Dorn, Sherwin, Huby, Henderson, Korkidas, Lupton, Catic, McGoldricknSubs: Thackeray, Westerman, Higgings, BoylenTries: Owen (21), Westerman (47)nConv: nPen: Huby (29, 63)nnHT: 0-6nnMan of the Match: Matt DiskinnnReferee: Phil BenthamnnAtt: 17, 619

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