Leeds Rhinos: Tries: Tom Briscoe, Danny McGuire, Ryan Hall (2). Goals: Kevin Sinfield, 3/4. Drop Goals: Danny McGuire.
Castleford Tigers: Tries: Daryl Clark, Oliver Holmes. Goals: Marc Sneyd, 0/1, Liam Finn, 1/1.
Ryan Hall put in a man of the match performance as Leeds Rhinos ended their long wait for a Challenge Cup triumph, overcoming Castleford in the Wembley showpiece to win the cup for the first time in 15 years.
Leeds wing man Tom Briscoe crossed in the opening minutes before Daryl Clark replied for Cas, but Danny McGuire added a second try for Leeds and Ryan Hall scored a vital pair of his own as Oliver Holmes’ score was in vain for the Tigers
Rhinos captain Kevin Sinfield added three successful conversions while McGuire added a drop goal in the closing minutes to secure the title.
While Hall took the headlines with his Lance Todd Trophy winning performance, it was a near faultless team effort as Leeds lifted the Challenge Cup for the 12th time in their 119 year history.
Leeds flew out of the blocks early on, with Tom Briscoe going over in the fourth minute after the Rhinos worked hard to power themselves up to the opposition 10, and the former Hull FC man finished off a flowing move on the right edge. Sinfield added the extras.
But Cas were not to be deterred and they enjoyed a good spell of possession, using three consecutive sets to camp themselves on the Leeds line and, after Justin Carney had a try ruled out, they finally scored with their last chance of an assault on the Leeds line.
Marc Sneyd directed a cut-back kick through the defence on the last tackle and hooker Clark gathered before twisting his way past Zak Hardaker to to dive over.
Sneyd flashed a simple conversion attempt wide and five minutes later, Leeds extended their advantage to eight.
Rob Burrow prodded a kick up into the Wembley sun and Luke Dorn stayed flat-footed as he lost sight of the ball and a flying Danny McGuire pounced, climbing high to dive over on the left. Sinfield added the extras once again, taking the scores to 12-4 after a frantic opening 17 minutes.
On 25 minutes, the Rhinos were in again and it was Hall who produced a sensational try, born out of sheer brute force.
McGuire moved the ball wide to a stationary Hall and there looked to be nothing on with Kirk Dixon and Luke Dorn standing in his path, but he simply charged through the two men, forcing his way over for a truly memorable score, his 21st of the campaign.
With the scores at 16-4 after the first 40 minutes, Cas needed to score the next try to keep their chances of success alive and they obliged almost immediately.
On 47 minutes, Tigers captain Michael Shenton stepped through the Leeds right edge and found fellow Cas youth product Oliver Holmes on his inside, who showed a terrific turn of pace to evade two would be tacklers and go over beneath the posts. Liam Finn converted.
The next 20 minutes was a real battle as both sides looked to wrestle control of the match, but Leeds finally broke clear with just under 15 minutes left thanks to Hall’s incredible strength which proved decisive once again. He took on no less than four defenders as he muscled his way over from close range.
That was Hall’s fourth score in as many final appearances at Wembley and Sinfield made it three from four conversions to give the Blue and Amber a 12 point buffer going into the final 10 minutes.
McGuire managed a late drop goal to bring about a party atmosphere for the Leeds fans in the closing moments as the club’s ‘Golden Era’ finally got its’ hands on the final piece of the jigsaw – a Challenge Cup title.
WeLoveLeague Man of the Match: Danny McGuire.