It may not have felt like revenge in any way, but Castleford Tigers came out on top three tries to one against their Grand Final conquerors Leeds Rhinos at a wet and cold Mend-A-Hose Jungle.
In their last home warm-up before the season proper starts the Tigers looked sharp early on to open up what proved a winning lead and adapted to the awful conditions as they forced eight goal-line drop-outs to exert plenty of pressure.
It could never have been a free flowing game in the rain, snow and icy temperature, but the work-out will bring both sides on as they continue their preparations.
Cas came out of the traps flying to show that they got some good work done in their week in Lanzarote as they dominated the opening 10 minutes and opened up a 12-0 lead.
Luke Gale’s grubber forced a second minute drop-out from the Tigers’ first play and the Rhinos were not to get their hands on the ball until the 11th minute as Cas came up with the right tactics for the conditions, showing that they had learned from what they did not do in the Grand Final.
Jake Trueman’s grubber forced a second drop-out and from the next play they scored their first try.
Greg Eden finished in style - carrying on where he left off last season - following a classy left edge move involving Luke Gale, Ben Roberts and Michael Shenton, whose inside pass was perfectly timed for his winger. Gale goaled to make it 6-0.
Only last gasp defence kept Ben Roberts out on another dangerous attack as he was held up over the line.
Paul McShane’s kick then forced a third drop-out in the first 10 minutes before Cas scored their second try when James Green did well to collect an awkward pass from McShane near the line and crashed over for his first try for the club. With Gale goaling it was 12-0.
Leeds finally had some possession and Richie Myler’s kick forced their first goal-line drop-out.
Now it was all Rhinos as Anthony Mullally was held up over the line twice and Myler’s grubber resulted in another drop-out.
The home defence held firm before cracking on 21 minutes when Matt Parcell followed up his own kick to score after Jamie Jones-Buchanan got the ball out in the tackle and may have got away with a knock-on. Surprisingly Myler missed the easy looking conversion so it was 12-4 and that was how it stayed to half-time.
Both sides were guilty of errors as the ball became increasingly greasy and the game as a spectacle faded after the bright start.
Liam Sutcliffe was close to scoring for the visitors only to lose the ball as he neared the try-line while Jake Webster’s kick through forced a fourth Rhinos drop-out. It summed up the latter part of the half that from the resulting kick out from under the posts Roberts dropped the ball on the half-way line.
Grant Millington made a promising 40-metre break for the Tigers, but from the next play Gale knocked on.
Cas started the second half strongly and their pressure was rewarded as Oliver Holmes forced his way over on the left after a Gale offload. Jamie Ellis took over kicking duties after coming on as a half-time substitute, but was unable to add the conversion from wide out.
Leeds hit back to force some pressure of their own with Nathaniel Peteru held up over the line, but the home defence remained intact and the Tigers were soon back on top.
Three successive drop-outs were forced by good kicks from Ellis and Gale, but it was the Rhinos’ turn to defend their line well as they held out.
Referee James Child littered the half with penalties against both sides and from one of his decisions Leeds’ Carl Ablett spoke out of turn and was sin-binned.
Joel Moon’s kick forced yet another drop-out, this time at the Tigers’ end, but again nothing came of the extra possession and the game petered out to finish 16-4.
Scorers: Castleford: Tries Eden, Green, Holmes; goals Gale 2. Leeds: Try Parcell.
Castleford Tigers: Roberts; Clare, Webster, Shenton, Eden; Trueman, Gale; Moors, McShane, Green, Wardle, McMeeken, Massey. Subs: Milner, Sene-Lefao, Holmes, Foster, Cook, Lo, Ellis, Millington, Aston, Egodo.
Leeds Rhinos: Walker; Briscoe, Watkins, Sutcliffe, Hall; Moon, Myler; Garbutt, Parcell, Singleton, Jones-Buchanan, Ablett, Cuthbertson. Subs: Delaney, Mullally, Dwyer, Golding, Keinhorst, Peteru, Ormondroyd.
Referee: James Child.