Saturday 23rd August 2014
Story in brief:
Castleford Tigers came up short in the 2014 Tetley's Challenge Cup final after a 23-10 loss against West Yorkshire rivals Leeds Rhinos.
Daryl Powell's side fought resiliently in the second half and pulled the margin between the sides back to just six points with 30 minutes left, but a try from Ryan Hall and a Danny McGuire drop-goal sealed it for the Rhinos.
Chairman Jack Fulton memorably led Castleford out at the start of the encounter, after a 22-year Wembley drought.
But it was Leeds who started the brighter of the two sides, and constant pressure and repeat sets eventually saw Tom Briscoe score in the corner after five minutes.
The Tigers response was solid, and Daryl Clark responded with a superb finish in front of the travelling black and amber army, beating Zak Hardaker in the process.
Brian McDermott's side were back in control after 16 minutes though, after Danny McGuire latched upon a high Rob Burrow kick, leaving Luke Dorn flat-footed in the process.
The advantage was 12 points at the break, thanks to a great finish from Ryan Hall. The winger was stationary when he received the ball, but moments later he had bulldozed through the Castleford defence to give the Rhinos some breathing space, as the club looked for their first Cup success since 1999.
Castleford looked much sharper in the second half after a regroup with Daryl Powell, and Ollie Holmes reduced the gap to just one converted try. Lee Jewitt, who looked strong going forward all afternoon, made a brilliant break before skipper Shenton did the same, and his ball to Holmes had the Cas fans dreaming of Wembley glory once more.
The Tigers were now on top, and Liam Finn in particular looked most likely to penetrate the resolute Leeds defence with an abundance of creativity.
But the final ball just kept going begging for Castleford, and another superb Hall try just past the hour restored the 12 point cushion, and all the Tigers' hard work to get back in the game had been undone.
Danny McGuire put the icing on the cake with a drop-goal in the dying minutes to ensure the Rhinos were crowned winners, but Castleford were admirable runners-up.
CASTLEFORD: Dorn, Dixon, Webster, Shenton, Carney, Sneyd, Finn, Lynch, Clark, Huby, Holmes, Hauraki, Massey. SUBS: Mariano, Wheeldon, Ellis, Jewitt.
CASTLEFORD TRIES: Clark, Holmes
CASTLEFORD GOALS: Sneyd (0/1), Finn (1/1)
LEEDS: Hardaker, Briscoe, Watkins, Moon, Hall, Sinfield, McGuire, Leuluai, Burrow, Peacock, Delaney, Ablett, Jones-Buchanan. SUBS: Aiton, Bailey, Kirke, Sutcliffe.
LEEDS TRIES: Briscoe, McGuire, Hall (2)
LEEDS GOALS: Sinfield (3/4)
LEEDS DROP-GOAL: McGuire
Referee: Phil Bentham.
By Adam Etherington.