Leeds hold off dogged Cas

Ryan Hall bagged a hat-trick as Leeds saw off a dogged Castleford to record back-to-back Super League victories.

It was Hall’s third try on the hour mark that halted the Tigers, who had fought back from 18-0 down to move within four points of the champions, before a couple of late tries added gloss to the scoreline and sent the home side to their fourth consecutive loss.

Leeds, fresh from a 44-16 win at Widnes last weekend, started well and nearly scored in the third minute when Carl Ablett hacked the ball on from a Castleford error, but they did get on the scoreboard 10 minutes later when Hall swivelled out of a tackle to score in the corner.

Rangi Chase then saw a score chalked off by the video referee following a knock-on from Dixon, but it was the video referee’s next decision that was the talking point of the first half.

Leeds worked the ball left and it seemed that Zak Hardaker had tipped Brent Webb‘s pass forward, but Hall played on, shrugged off a weak challenge by Josh Griffin and scored in the corner.

The imperious Kevin Sinfield slotted home his second touchline conversion, and he made it three from three on 27 minutes, after Kallum Watkins pounced on a loose ball, broke two tackles, and raced 70 metres for a breakaway score.

It looked like the writing was on the wall for the home side, coached once again by assistant Stuart Donlan in the absence of Ian Millward, missing following the tragic death of son Robbie.

But the introduction of Daryl Clark and Lee Mitchell from the bench added enthusiasm to the Tigers attack, and it was Mitchell’s drive that set up the field position for Clark to dive over from dummy half by the side of the posts.

Then two minutes later, Mitchell again took the ball up hard, and a couple of tackles later, Dixon burst on to Chase’s short pass to reduce the deficit to 18-10 at half time.

Leeds probed at the start of the second half and looked more likely to score first, until Hardaker failed to hold Webb’s pass and Griffin was able to race 70 metres for the Tigers’ third try, although Dixon’s second missed conversion of the night meant Leeds kept a four point cushion.

For the next 15 minutes, the champions were involved in a real tussle and it took a piercing break from Ben Jones-Bishop to break the deadlock, before the ball was worked left for Hall’s third try, Sinfield once again converting for 24-14.

That seemed to break Castleford’s resolve, although they nearly got themselves back in to it when Richard Owen offloaded for Griffin close to the Rhinos line, but Danny McGuire got back for a try saving tackle.

McGuire then sealed the victory with a try up the other end, before debutant Liam Hood got on the scoresheet in the closing stages, despite a hint of a double movement.

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