Super League: Leeds Rhinos 12-23 Castleford Tigers
|Betfred Super League|
|Leeds (6) 12|
|Tries: Handley, Cuthbertson Goals: Sutcliffe 2|
|Castleford (8) 23|
|Tries: Eden, Hardaker, Millington Goals: Gale 5 Drop goal: Gale|
Castleford moved seven points clear at the top of Super League with victory at Yorkshire rivals Leeds.
Ash Handley put Rhinos ahead and Greg Eden replied for Cas in a tight first half, but two goals by Luke Gale saw the visitors lead 8-6 at half-time.
Zak Hardaker's stunning solo try against his parent club extended Castleford's advantage and Grant Millington also went over.
Adam Cuthbertson's try proved to be just a consolation for the home side.
It was an eighth successive Super League win for Cas, who stretched their lead by virtue of Salford losing to St Helens.
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The home side went ahead after a mistake by Ben Roberts, who was caught trying to run the ball from behind the posts and his stray pass was punished by Handley.
Eden's 31st try of the season brought the game level as he grounded in the corner, while Leeds' Danny McGuire was sin-binned for arguing with the official.
Gale, who earlier been successful from the tee with the conversion, added a penalty to edge Castleford into a two-point lead, before Eden had a try disallowed for offside as the half drew to a close.
Castleford extended their narrow half-time lead thanks to a fantastic solo try from Hardaker, who cut through three players before running clear and side-stepping last man Liam Sutcliffe.
Gale's clever bobbling kick along the ground was snapped up by Millington as the Tigers went 20-6 ahead.
Leeds refused to lie down and Cuthbertson slid in after hesitation in the Castleford defence, but the leaders hit back again as Gale's penalty and drop goal took his personal tally to 11 points - and secured a seventh successive win for the Tigers at Headingley.
Leeds coach Brian McDermott believes the League Leaders' Shield is destined for Castleford, saying:
"I think Cas have got that. It's maybe not in the cupboard but the cupboard doors are open and waiting.
"I'm really proud of a group of men that keep showing up for each other and defending as they did.
"But I couldn't be any more disappointed with what Castleford didn't have to defend. I don't think we'll be as poor as that again this year with the ball."
Castleford coach Daryl Powell:
"We were awesome. Defensively we were superb. It was one of those nights you might see at the end of the season, so I thought it was quite symbolic for us.
"We played enough tonight without going over the top. Luke Gale's control of the game was absolutely outstanding. It was an excellent performance from us in tough conditions.
"We would have got rid of a few doubts about us as a team tonight which I'm really pleased with."
Leeds: L. Sutcliffe, Briscoe, Watkins, Hall, Handley, Moon, McGuire, Galloway, Parcell, Singleton, Jones-Buchanan, Ward, Ferres.
Replacements: Cuthbertson, Garbutt, Mullally, Walker.
Castleford: Hardaker, Hitchcox, Webster, Minikin, Eden, Roberts, Gale, Milner, McShane, Millington, Foster, McMeeken, Sene-Lefao.
Replacements: Massey, Springer, Patrick, T. Holmes.
Referee: Robert Hicks (RFL).