Rugby League: Crooks steals historic draw

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The Independent Online
Leeds . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14

Castleford. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14

LEE CROOKS may no longer figure in Great Britain's plans, but he showed the watching Australian coach, Bob Fulton, what an influential player he remains at club level, writes Dave Hadfield.

Crooks threatened to win and then to lose the match for Castleford before finally snatching the first league draw between the clubs with a fiercely disputed penalty a minute from time.

Leeds made less mistakes and enjoyed more possession in the first quarter and went ahead when long passes from Patrick Entat and Graham Holroyd, the man keeping Garry Schofield out, took them across the field and an equally flat, accurate ball from Richie Eyres put Francis Cummins outside his marker for the try. Initially let down by erratic handling, Castleford brought on Crooks in a bid to open up play and Tony Kemp's angled run sent Richard Goddard between Kevin Iro and Jim Fallon

Bench-watchers were rewarded when Schofield was introduced, albeit in his occasional position of scrum-half. Leeds soon squandered a chance to take the lead with Holroyd's wayward penalty but Crooks was not as generous when James Lowes floored Richard Russell and Castleford went in ahead.

Schofield's run and pass sent Dean Sampson through Ellery Hanley's tackle for a converted try six minutes into the second half but Sampson gave Leeds a route back when he was penalised for not playing the ball properly to give Holroyd his first goal.

Schofield then figured twice in a sweeping move before sending Hanley in for a try which, with Holroyd's conversion, brought Leeds level. Crooks' late kneeing of the try-scorer gave Holroyd an additional kick and Leeds the lead, with Crooks sent to the sin bin for good measure.

With time running out, Castleford's pressure finally paid, a controversial offside decision giving Crooks the equalising penalty.

Leeds: Tait; Fallon (Fozzard, h-t), Iro, Innes, Cummins; Holroyd, Entat (Schofield, 25); Faimalo, Lowes, Mann (Fallon, 60), Mercer, Eyres, Hanley (Mann, 66).

Castleford: Steadman; C Smith, Blackmore, Goddard, Middleton (Coventry, 24); Kemp, T Smith; Sampson (Ketteridge, 78), Russell, Ketteridge (Crooks, 17), Smales, Hay, Nikau.

Referee: J Connolly (Wigan).

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