Tigers’ tails up after tough derby win

Castleford Tigers left it late in a hard fought Yorkshire derby as they saw off champions Leeds Rhinos at the Mend-a-Hose Jungle last night. An early lead courtesy of tries from veteran prop Andy Lynch and centre Jake Webster, both converted by Luke Gale, saw the Tigers 12-0 up in short order.

To their credit, however, the Rhinos showed glimpses of the attacking, offloading style that won them the treble with last term. Joel Moon, Kallum Watkins and the returning Tom Briscoe all crossed to give Leeds a deserved half-time lead, although their three-score tally was checked by a solitary conversion by stand-off Liam Sutcliffe.

The Tigers were not to be denied, however, and after a real arm wrestle in the second period, with both teams coming within a whisker of adding a decisive score, it was Jake Webster who ran onto another exquisite pass from Gale, to punch through the Rhinos defence and score the winning try under the sticks.

Rhinos kicking themselves at lost points

Kevin Sinfield is, unsurprisingly, proving difficult to replace. What’s a little unexpected, however, is the fact that Leeds appear not to have resolved who will take responsibility for their goal kicking. Rob Burrow, Zak Hardaker, Jordan Lilley and Liam Sutcliffe have all had a go with varying degrees of success.

Sutcliffe looked the part against Saints and appeared to have resolved the Rhinos’ goal-kicking conundrum, but last night’s performance ultimately meant his side were defeated rather than salvaging a draw.

For a team with the Rhinos’ pedigree, a part-time or developing kicker is insufficient. The champions need a consistent boot if they’re to salvage their season.

Yorkshire grit from both sides great showcase for Super League

Another week, another reversal of fortunes for two more teams and another result that only adds to the inegrity of Super League as a competition. Although lessons remain from the horrors (from an English perspective at least) of the World Club series, in its 21st year Super League has truly come of age. It’s hard to remember a season of such unpredictability.

No team appears invincible at this stage, and it’s refreshing to see the likes of Widnes as early front runners. Last night’s game was a shining example of how the competition has narrowed significantly in the English top flight, sacrificing neither standard of play nor entertainment value in the process.

Both Castleford and Leeds deserve recognition for the commitment and workrate shown yesterday –  a sentiment echoed by coaches post-match:

“That was more like it. That was the commitment and effort and character and spirit we’ve shown over the last couple of years” said a triumphant Daryl Powell, while Rhinos boss Brian McDermott spoke of “a group of men trying their hardest.”

How long will Luke Gale wait for an England call-up?

Luke Gale was superb for the Tigers last night. His perfectly timed passes to Andy Lynch and Jake Webster set up the game’s opening and closing tries. Gale converted all three of Castleford’s scores, which ultimately proved the difference in a close game.

The Tigers’ halfback kept his side’s tempo upbeat throughout the 80 minutes, with yet another accomplished performance. Overlooked by Steve McNamara, how much longer must he wait for a call from Wayne Bennett?

IN THE SHEDS

Both sides remain without key players through injury, although neither appear to have been affected by last night’s meeting.

Cas forward Matt Cook was absent through suspension. Olly Holmes, Junior Moors and skipper Michael Shentonare among several who remain absent through injury.

Leeds were without Brett Delaney and Danny McGuire, while Ryan Hall joined Ashton Golding and Stevie Ward on the injury list, failing to make the trip to Wheldon Road.

FINAL SCORE

Castleford Tigers (12) 18

Tries: Lynch, Webster 2

Goals: Gale 3

Leeds Rhinos (14) 14

Tries: Moon, Watkins, Briscoe

Goals: Sutcliffe