THERE HAVE been some thrilling, close, controversial and even bizarre games between Leeds Rhinos and Castleford Tigers in the Super League era.
The derby at the Jungle eight years ago today was all of those things. Rhinos eventually won 24-22, but only after Tigers staged a remarkable comeback in appalling conditions.
A dry, sunny evening was transformed soon after kick-off when the Jungle was lashed by a spectacular storm, with thunder, lightning and torrential rain sending fans running for cover.
The pitch was transformed into a swamp and Rob Burrow took advantage by sliding over to open Rhinos’ account after just four minutes.
Kevin Sinfield converted and added a second goal after Danny McGuire made the most of Ryan McGoldrick’s knock-on to touch down.
Despite injuries to Burrow and Brett Delaney, Leeds seemed to have the game under control when Keith Senior carved out an unconverted try for Ryan Hall to make it 16-0 after as many minutes.
But a fumble by Hall led to a try for Stuart Jones. Kirk Dixon converted and then touched down Rangi Chase’s kick in Tigers’ next set to cut the gap to six points four minutes before the break.
Chase crossed at the start of the second half and Dixon’s goal levelled the scores, but a second try by McGuire - when he collected his own kick via a rebound off Ryan Boyle – edged the visitors back in front.
Sinfield added the extras, giving Leeds a 22-16 lead, with 30 minutes to go and there was no further score until 12 minutes from time when Michael Shenton kicked on and raced through to get the ball down.
Dixon kept his nerve to land the equalising kick and it seemed the points would be shared.
But with seconds remaining McGuire slid through a kick for Jamie Jones-Buchanan to chase. Brent Sherwin tried to gather, but knocked on and Shenton had no choice but to pick the ball up in an offside position.
That prevented a try, but gave Sinfield a kick after the hooter, in front of the posts, to win it and he made no mistake, though he opted not to celebrate out of respect for Tigers’ huge effort.
Castleford 22 (Tries: Jones, Dixon, Chase, Shenton. Goals: Dixon 3)
Leeds Rhinos 24 (Tries McGuire 2, Burrow, Hall. Goals: Sinfield 4)
Super League, May 15, 2009
Castleford Tigers: McGoldrick, Dixon, Shenton, Evans, Wainwright, Faumuina, Sherwin, Sargent, Chase, Higgins, Ferres, Jones, Westerman. Subs Clayton, Feather, Boyle, Ford.
Leeds Rhinos: Webb, Donald, Smith, Senior, Hall, McGuire, Burrow, Leuluai, Buderus, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Kirke, Sinfield. Subs Lauitiiti, Diskin, Ablett, Burgess.
Referee: Ian Smith