Castleford Tigers failed to get revenge for their Challenge Cup defeat against Leeds Rhinos as they fell to a 26-12 defeat in front of a huge sell-out crowd at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle.
Daryl Powell’s men put up a battling display, but were never in front and were guilty of missing too many try scoring opportunities.
Cas trailed 16-6 at half-time after a tough struggle in the opening 40 minutes in which the Rhinos were the more clinical in taking their chances.
The first opportunity came in the fourth minute when Luke Gale intercepted near his own line and raced 60 metres downfield. He did not quite have the pace to get clean away on a heavy pitch and was tackled by Ryan Hall.
The Leeds winger held him down in the tackle, however, and a penalty was awarded with referee Ben Thaler sin-binning the Rhinos winger.
In the very next set Cas went for it and James Clare charged for the corner only to be tackled into touch just short of the line.
Back came Leeds and the hosts had a let-off when Liam Sutcliffe jinked his way over the line only to lose the ball in the act of grounding it.
Within three minutes, however, the Rhinos did open the scoring as Danny McGuire’s pass sent Joel Moon through a gap and he raced over for the first try.
A second try followed on 21 minutes as Moon’s break was carried on by McGuire. Although the Tigers did well to stop the half-back inches short of the line they were caught short of numbers in defence, Hall having a stroll in for a try converted by Sutcliffe.
But Cas bounced back and Liam Finn’s grubber kick was perfectly delivered for skipper Michael Shenton to dive over for a try. Gale’s touchline goal made it 10-6 and the ground was now really rocking.
More pressure followed, but the Rhinos held out and were glad to see Carney drop the ball inside the 10 metres as Cas threatened on a sixth tackle play.
Leeds came up with a big score, however, just before half-time when a clever grubber kick by Sutcliffe was pounced on by Stevie Ward and Sutcliffe’s goal gave his side a 10-point lead at the break.
Castleford needed a big start to the second half and it looked like they were doing that as Andy Lynch made a superb break down the middle and the ball was moved onto Shenton only for the centre to be bundled into touch by desperate visitors’ defenders.
Next it was Leeds’ turn to go close when Adam Cuthbertson appeared to have charged over only for the video referee to give no try after great defence by Luke Dorn.
From the next play the Rhinos lost the ball, Carney scooped it up and went on an exciting charge downfield, but chose not to pass to the unmarked Adam Milner up in support and was tackled short of the line.
It was a huge chance bombed, although Carney made amends to some extent when making a try saving tackle on Zak Hardaker soon after.
McGuire was then held up on the line by good Cas defence while at the other end Gale’s high kick was unlucky to bounce off Clare to safety. Brad Singleton was then held up over the line.
The next try was always going to be vital and it went to the Rhinos when an overlap was created on the left and Moon sent Hall over for his second try.
Leeds scored again four minutes later as Cuthbertson spun in the tackle to get over the line for the try he had threatened all afternoon. Sutcliffe’s goal made it 26-6 and it was effectively all over.
Cas produced a spirited finish, however, and after Carney was denied a try by the video referee for obstruction in the build-up, Shenton was then put in touch to end another dangerous move.
A drop-out was forced as the late pressure was maintained and Shenton lost the ball trying to force his way over.
Finally the Tigers did score when Shenton went over this time after combining well down the left with Carney.
Gale’s added a touchline conversion, but it was too late for Castleford as they suffered their second home local derby defeat of the season.
Scorers - Castleford: Tries Shenton 2; goals Gale 2. Leeds: Tries Moon, Hall 2, Ward, Cuthbertson; goals Sutcliffe 3.
Castleford Tigers: Dorn; Clare, Gibson, Shenton, Carney; Finn, Gale; Lynch, Moore, Millington, Holmes, Webster, Massey. Subs: Milner, Cook, Boyle, Wheeldon.
Leeds Rhinos: Hardaker; Handley, Watkins, Moon, Hall; Sutcliffe, McGuire; Singleton, Aiton, Peacock, Ward, Ablett, Cuthbertson. Subs: Burrow, Delaney, Achurch, Yates.
Referee: Ben Thaler