Castleford Tigers narrowly failed to add Leeds Rhinos to their list of top name scalps this season as they lost 22-14 in heavy conditions at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle.
Daryl Powell’s men could be proud of their efforts against the First Utility Super League leaders as they led 8-0 early on and 14-12 at the break, but they just ran out of gas in a second half in which they failed to score.
Castleford deserved their two-point half-time advantage after a nip and tuck game in which both sides showed their attacking prowess despite the wet weather.
Cas struck first on seven minutes when Kirk Dixon got over the line from close range.
Marc Sneyd added the touchline conversion and six minutes later kicked a penalty to make it 8-0.
Back came Leeds and after having a try ruled out by the video referee for losing the ball over the line they scored their first try, Ben Jones-Bishop finishing a crisp handling move down the right and his effort being allowed to stand by the video judge despite a hint of obstruction. Kevin Sinfield’s touchline goal reduced the Rhinos arrears to two points.
The keen Tigers forced several drop-outs and were unlucky when Daryl Clark slipped when racing clear on a superb break. But the visitors were still dangerous and went in front on the half-hour as Kallum Watkins wriggled over to finish another good move.
Sinfield’s conversion made it 12-8 and it could have a bigger lead soon after had Justin Carney not chased back well to foil Zak Hardaker after he had chipped ahead on a free play following a knock-on.
However, it was Cas who finished the half strongly with Sneyd beating three Leeds players on a jinking run over the line for a try he converted.
They almost scored again off the last play of the half when Clark made another great break and kicked ahead. Jones-Bishop was first to the ball only to fumble, but managed to recover to keep the score at 14-12 at the break.
It remained a close contest after the break, but the Rhinos just had that little bit extra and went in front when Jones-Bishop went over for his second after Hardaker had caught McGuire’s high kick.
Leeds then survived a big period or pressure in which Andy Lynch went closest to a try when tackled by Kylie Leuluai.
They broke out and scored again through Watkins’ second after a great run by Liam Sutcliffe and Sinfield’s conversion made it 22-14.
The Tigers kept going as Sneyd’s chip kick almost came off, but conditions and perhaps the fact they only played last Sunday took its toll in the closing stages.
The error count with the ball went up, although they showed spirit in defence to keep out Hardaker,Sinfield and Carl Ablett and did not concede any further tries.
The score remained 22-14 to the finish with the Rhinos just about edging it in the end.
Scorers - Castleford: Tries Dixon, Sneyd; goals Sneyd 3. Leeds: Tries Jones-Bishop 2, Watkins 2; goals Sinfield 3.
Castleford: Tansey; Dixon, Gibson, Shenton, Carney; Sneyd, Finn; Lynch, Milner, Mariano, Holmes, Webster, Wheeldon. Subs: Clark, Milner, Huby, Hauraki.
Leeds: Hardaker; Jones-Bishop, Watkins, Noon, Briscoe; McGuire, Ablett; Leuluai, Sinfield, Peacock, Achurch, Clarkson, Delaney. Subs: Ward, Singleton, Sutcliffe, Bailey.
Referee: Richard Silverwood.