12-men Tigers valiant in Leeds loss
Posted: Monday 26th October 2020 - 10:00 PM
A huge effort came up short for Castleford in a feisty clash against Challenge Cup winners and play-off hopefuls Leeds.
In what was the first meeting between the rivals in 15 months, the game didn’t disappoint in front of the Sky Sports cameras as the Tigers were reduced to 12 men after half an hour but threatened a deserved win in the second half before eventually coming up short in a 28-24 defeat.
Things started well for a Tigers side featuring a number of players playing their third game in nine days. Boosted by the return of the likes of Jake Trueman, Liam Watts and Oliver Holmes, they opened the scoring inside two minutes as Danny Richardson’s towering kick forced an error from Lance Todd Trophy winner Richie Myler on the first set and from the resulting field position Richardson threaded a low kick into the in-goal for Watts to touch down.
For the Rhinos, they brought back a raft of first team regulars for the first time since lifting the cup at Wembley last weekend and were close to full strength on their own patch at Emerald Headingley Stadium, with prop Ava Seumanufagai hitting back with a powerful burst from close range to level the scores with quarter of an hour gone.
It was an even contest at this stage as Myler was held up over the line at one end before Greg Eden was denied a score in the corner after a knock on from Cheyse Blair in the build up minutes before the contentious moment of the half.
The Tigers, who felt they hadn’t had the rub of the green in the first 40 minutes, went a man down after Holmes was shown a red card for a bust up with Myler, the Cas forward retaliating after receiving an elbow from the Leeds full back in the tackle.
Former Ford Luke Gale made the most of the extra man by forcing his way over from close range – on the set after being awarded a penalty for a late hit from Paul McShane – but Cas refused to back down and regathered the lead with a brace of tries from Eden either side of half-time, the winger first swooping on a loose ball to race 70 metres with the final play of the first half after Leeds had unnecessarily chanced their arm after the hooter had sounded.
Eden then capitalised on another strong start to the second half from his side by crossing for his second of the night after 45 minutes, this one coming in much more classic fashion as a lovely shift play involving Richardson, Trueman and Gareth O’Brien created a metre of space inside the left corner flag, and two more conversions from Richardson put Cas 18-12 up.
Leeds continued to push with ball in hand and initially centred their efforts around the middle in the absence of Holmes, who had lined up at loose man on his return from injury, only to be denied by a string of try-saving tackles from the likes of Mike McMeeken, Cheyse Blair and Trueman. However, with the weight of possession in the home side’s favour, their numbers did eventually tell out wide as Liam Sutcliffe and Tom Briscoe found space on opposite flanks in quick succession to open up a four-point advantage heading into the final 10 minutes.
Cas pushed their remaining reserves of energy into a response and did manage to gather a short kick-off, but half chances for James Clare and Derrell Olpherts were snuffed out before Rhys Martin looked to have made it comfortable for Leeds with their third try of the final quarter.
However, the Fords once again showed their fighting spirit with another push at the death and set up a nervy finish when they were awarded a penalty try for Blair with a minute on the clock as the centre was tackled high and early by Konrad Hurrell as he looked certain to touch down Paul McShane’s well-weighted kick to the corner after an offloading Tigers had got the Leeds defence scrambling. Richardson notched the extras as the conversion was moved in front of the posts but the clock in the end defeated them.
Full Time: Leeds Rhinos 28-24 Castleford Tigers
Myler, Handley, L Sutcliffe, Hurrell, L Briscoe, Lui, Gale, Seumanufagai, Leeming, Prior, Mellor, Martin, Thompson
Oledzki, Dwyer, Donaldson, Smith
Tries: Seumanufagai, Gale, Sutcliffe, Briscoe, Martin
Conversions: Martin (4/5)
O’Brien, Olpherts, Clare, Blair, Eden, Trueman, Richardson, Watts, McShane, Hepi, Foster, McMeeken, Holmes
Sene-Lefao, Smith, Moors, Peachey
Tries: Eden (2), Watts, Blair
Conversions: Richardson (4/4)
Sent Off: Holmes
*Match report by Matt Holden
**Photography by SWPix
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