Two of Leeds's Test players not required for international duty this week saved them from the embarrassment of a third Super League defeat in a row.
The league leaders were looking at a second loss of the season to the bottom club when they trailed 12-4 with 14 minutes to play. But the former Great Britain hooker, Matt Diskin, and the New Zealand full-back, Brent Webb, linked up twice in three minutes to win the game and justify Leeds's gamble in playing without seven team members just back from England's game in France on Friday and without another seven because of injury or suspension.
Diskin, captaining the Rhinos for the first time, made the elusive break that set up Webb. Then Webb, playing the unfamiliar role of scrum-half, returned the compliment and Leeds, with the addition of three goals from Lee Smith, had got away with it, although it needed a brilliant try-saving tackle on Stuart Donlan by Ben Jones-Bishop to keep Cas at bay.
Castleford's first-half try was a beauty, with lightning passes from Brent Sherwin, Luke Dorn and Donlan setting up young Richard Owen.
That should have been just the start of it, but Castleford's only other points of the half came from Craig Huby's penalty.
Castleford's one player on duty in France had been Joe Westerman, who arrived at Headingley 50 minutes before kick-off and spent most of the first-half on the bench. He showed his quality with a rampaging run followed by a magnificent leap to grab Dorn's cross-field kick and touch down.
Huby extended the Tigers' lead to eight points, which was almost enough to make Leeds regret gambling on their youth – but not quite. "It was a fantastic effort and a great boost for the club," said their coach Brian McClennan. "Thirteen of our players tonight have come through our academy system and to see their faces afterwas something we'll always remember."
Leeds: Jones-Bishop; Hall, Jones-Buchanan, Smith, Donald; Allan, Webb; Leuluai, Diskin, Burgess, Lauitiiti, Bailey, Worrall. Substitutes used: Williams, Kaye, Haley, Chandler.
Castleford: Donlan; Fletcher, Shenton, Owen, Wainwright; Dorn, Sherwin; Huby, Henderson, Korkidas, Lupton, Catic, McGoldrick. Substitutes used: Thackeray, Westerman, Higgins, Boyle.
Referee: P Bentham (Warrington).Reuse content