BARRING A complete collapse by Castleford, Gateshead's inaugural season will not end with an appearance in the Super League play-offs.
Ahead by 10 points at half time, they finally paid the price for running out of forwards as the season has gone on, lacking the fire power to make any more inroads after the break.
They are now two points behind their rivals for fifth place, with a game more played and a worse points difference. It has been a fine effort, but it is not going to be quite good enough.
Gateshead were by far the more convincing side in the first half, their leading try scorer, Matt Daylight, claiming his 20th and 21st tries of the season.
Daylight's first came after Mick Jenkins' dart down the blind side caught Leeds cold in the fourth minute and his second came when he beat Leroy Rivett to Willie Peters' accurate cross-kick.
In between, a slow-starting Leeds had equalised when Terry Newton had kicked ahead for Francis Cummins to come from just on-side to touchdown and, with Iestyn Harris still sitting on the sidelines, add the goal.
Cummins and Gateshead's Ian Herron then exchanged penalties before the Thunder deservedly extended their lead before half-time. They should have scored when Kerrod Walters' brilliant pass sent Jenkins away, but he failed to pass to the supporting Ben Sammut.
Walters' embarrassment was spared when Gateshead scored on the last tackle of the set, Steve Collins taking Deon Bird's pass to go over in the corner. Herron, who had missed a couple of apparently easier kicks, landed his second conversion from the touch-line.
The first sign that Gateshead might be running out of resources came two minutes into the second half, when Anthony Farrell went through some weak tackling and Harris, introduced just before half-time, tagged on the goal.
After some insistent Thunder pressure failed to produce a response. They conceded a gift try, Sammut losing Harris's high kick and Ryan Sheridan following up to score, with Harris again converting.
It was all slipping away from Gateshead now. Almost immediately, Lee Jackson made a telling break and, although his pass looked suspiciously forward, Rivett raced away for another converted try, soon followed by a Harris penalty.
Gateshead, and Walters in particular, tried everything to get back into the match and keep their season alive, but Harris landed another penalty and the Thunder were left to hope for something close to a miracle.
Gateshead: Sammut, Herron, Collins, Simon, Daylight, Robinson, Peters, Felsch, Jenkins, Carvell, Wilson, Maher, Bird. Substitutes used: Walters, Maiden, Grogan, S Allwood.
Leeds: Cummins, Rivett, Golden, Godden, Sterling, Powell, Sheridan, Masella, Newton, Fleary, Hay, Farrell, Glanville. Substitutes used: Harris, McDermott, Sinfield, Jackson.
Referee: S Cummings (Widnes).
n Bradford need to win just one of their last three fixtures to finish top of Super League after thrashing Sheffield 52-4 at Odsal. St Helens survived some scares as they held off resilient Salford 23-10 to keep the pressure on Bradford. In the day's other game, London Broncos heaped more misery on the bottom club Huddersfield Giants with a 40-4 victory at The Stoop.Reuse content