Rugby League

Luke Gale stars as Castleford inflict third straight defeat on Leeds

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Castleford inflicted more misery on Super League leaders Leeds with a second win of the season at Headingley to ensure the race for the league leaders' shield will go down to the last weekend.

Scrum-half Luke Gale scored two tries and created two others in the Tigers' 29-22 victory which opens the door for Wigan to take over at the top when they play St Helens tonight.

It was a third successive defeat for the Rhinos since their Challenge Cup final win at Wembley and, to make matters worse, they lost skipper Kevin Sinfield to injury.

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It was 16-16 when Sinfield limped off three minutes into the second half and Castleford instantly seized the initiative with breathtaking long-range tries from half-backs Ben Roberts and Gale that helped take the attention away from more video referee confusion and controversy.

There was evidence of the Rhinos' Wembley hangover in the opening stages when the visitors opened up a 12-0 lead after just eight minutes.

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Gale was at the heart of Castleford's storming start, linking with prop Grand Millington to score the first try and combining with skipper Michael Shenton to get winger Denny Solomona over for the second.

Gale kicked both conversions but Leeds quickly struck back, scoring from their first attack of any note when winger Ryan Hall leapt over both Ashley Gibson and Mike McMeeken to collect Sinfield's kick to the corner and touch down for the first of his two tries.

Sinfield converted from the touchline and the scores were level on 15 minutes when scrum-half Danny McGuire pierced open the Tigers defence with a midfield dart and kicked into space for centre Joel Moon to score.

That gave the Rhinos just the confidence they clearly needed and, after full-back Zak Hardaker was denied by the video referees, Hall gathered in McGuire's floated pass and bulldozed his way past the unfortunate Gibson for his second try.

Just when it seemed Leeds were set to pull away, they were pegged back before half-time.

Castleford full-back Luke Dorn, the most prolific overseas player in the history of Super League, pulled off a tremendous tackle to deny Tom Briscoe and then demonstrated his poaching skills to touch down for an equalising try despite a strong hint of obstruction.

The Tigers would have been ahead at the break had Gale succeeded with a snap drop-goal attempt but it was charged down and, a t 16-16, Leeds were still firm favourites to go on and win.

However, it all went horribly wrong for them inside the first seven minutes of the second half.

First Sinfield limped off and then Castleford second rower Matt Cook showed a nice turn of speed in a clean break from inside his own half and handed off Hall to get the supporting Gale over for a superb try.

That was arguably eclipsed moments later when Roberts tore through the Leeds defence and took a return pass from Gale to finish off another scintillating long-range move.

Gale kicked a fourth goal to make it 28-16 but prop Adam Cuthbertson kept the Rhinos in contention when he charged onto a pass from the impressive Jordan Lilley to score their fourth try on 52 minutes.

Lilley added the goal with Sinfield off the pitch and, as the home side piled on the pressure, both Brad Singleton and Cuthbertson were turned on their backs after forcing their way over the Castleford tryline while Dorn pulled off a magnificent last-ditch tackle to deny Carl Ablett.

Panic set in as the Rhinos began to chase the game and it was finally settled seven minutes from the end when Roberts coolly put over a drop goal.

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Topics:
Leeds Rhinos
Castleford Tigers
Rugby League

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