James Clare double is not enough as Castleford Tigers lose out in Leeds Rhinos derby

Liam Watts on the attack for Castleford Tigers against Leeds Rhinos. Picture: Simon Hall
Liam Watts on the attack for Castleford Tigers against Leeds Rhinos. Picture: Simon Hall

Castleford Tigers delivered plenty of good news through the week, but there was little cheer provided by their performance in an 18-10 defeat to Leeds Rhinos at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle.

After their bright display last week against London Broncos the Tigers looked devoid of ideas at times as they came up against a Rhinos team that was much improved defensively and were without a score in the first hour.

They might a fight of it with two quick tries by James Clare only for a big error by Greg Eden to prove costly after they had got back to within four points of their visitors.

In a remarkable first half saw the Tigers had almost all the pressure yet somehow finish without a point on the board and go in 6-0 behind.

They came close in the opening minute when Mike McMeeken knocked Peter Mata'utia's kick back in the in-goal area, but Leeds came up with the ball.

Cas thought they had scored in the fourth minute when Eden raced 95 metres downfield to touch the ball down only to see his efforts prove in vain. The Rhinos had initially been granted an advantage following a knock-on by the Tigers and the ball was passed on several times before the home winger made an interception.

Adam Cuthbertson was held up over the line as the Rhinos looked dangerous for the first time then they forced the first goalline drop-out.

Clare came up with another interception for the home team, but did not quite have the pace to get away and was tackled after a 50 metres run downfield.

Clare was then tackled two metres out as good defence by the Rhinos saw them hold out and nothing came of further pressure after Mata'utia's grubber earned a drop-out.

Cory Aston was next to go close before Adam Milner was held up over the line.

After all this pressure it was ironic that the Rhinos came up with a try as they got near the home line and Cuthbertson's offload sent Trent Merrin over from close range. Liam Sutcliffe goaled.

Konrad Hurrell touched the ball down over the line for what could have been a second Leeds try, but video referee Robert Hicks quickly ruled no try.

It was back to Cas on attack for most of the rest of the half, but they could not score as Ash Handley did well to defend a Jordan Rankin kick at the expense of a drop-out and Aston's kick and chase also narrowly failed to bring dividends.

The Tigers' bad luck continued into the second half when Rankin took Mata'utia's high kick only to lose the ball as he landed close to the visitors' line.

Leeds then came up with a crucial second try with one of their few clean breaks of the night, made by Tom Briscoe who found Jack Walker in support fror the full-back to score. Sutcliffe goaled to make it 12-0.

Mata'utia was held up over the line as the Tigers forced more pressure while Cameron Smith was held up over the home line soon after.

Sutcliffe then added a penalty to take the Rhinos' lead out to 14 points.

Just when it looked as if Cas had run out of ideas they finally put points on the board with a right edge move that ended with Cheyse Blair's forward looking pass collected by James Clare, who went over in the corner.

The next set brought an action replay and another try as Clare went over again. Jordan Rankin added the conversion and suddenly it was game on.

A brilliant run by Clare put the Tigers back into a good attacking position, but the ball was lost on the next play and Leeds were able to catch their breath.

A huge mistake by Eden then gifted possession to the Rhinos near the home line as the winger threw out a wild pass that was dropped. And Leeds took full advantage as recent signing Robert Lui showed good footwork to create space and charged over for his first try for the club.

Sutcliffe could not add the goal, but it did not matter as Leeds had an 18-10 victory that massively boosts their fight to stop up - and makes the Tigers start thinking again about possibilities of dropping into a relegation fight.

Scorers - Castleford: Tries Clare 2; goal Rankin. Leeds: Tries Merrin, Walker; Lui; goals Sutcliffe 3.

Castleford Tigers: Mata'utia; Clare, Minikin, Blair, Eden; Rankin, Aston; Watts, Milner, D Smith, Sene-Lefao, McMeeken, Massey. Subs: McShane, Millington, Cook, Clarkson.

Leeds Rhinos: Walker; Briscoe, Newman, Hurrell, Handley; Lui, Myler; Seumanufagai, Dwyer, Cuthbertson, Ferres, Sutcliffe, Merrin. Subs: Martin, Donaldson, Singleton, C Smith.

Referee: Ben Thaler.

Half-time: 0-6.

Attendance: 8,147.