Rugby League: Rare misses by Harris limit Leeds

Castleford Tigers 12 Leeds Rhinos 12
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ONLY POINTS difference separated these sides in Super League's top four before last night and a match of punishing intensity and high quality could not drive a further wedge between them.

A record Castleford crowd for Super League saw both have their chances in the last 20 minutes, but Cas failed to capitalise on what should have been a gift try and Iestyn Harris for once failed to kick his goals for Leeds.

Castleford shaded a first half equally crammed with ferocious confrontation and consummate handling skills. Each side scored a try, could have had several if not for crunching defence and went in separated only by Danny Orr's penalty.

That came after 12 minutes when Nathan Sykes had the ball stripped away in a two-man tackle, but that was only the prelude to some of the best rugby of the season.

Leeds, powered forward by the storming runs of Barrie McDermott, were the first to register a try. The former Castleford player Andy Hay drove deep into the defence and deft passing from Ryan Sheridan and Adrian Morley sent Lee Jackson over, with Harris converting.

The Castleford half-backs, Orr and Brad Davis, had already threatened much and Davis' chip and re-gather almost sent his partner in. The next time the two combined it did produce a try, Davis finding Orr, whose pass sent Michael Eager striding away. Davis supported on the inside and Jon Wells took the final pass to complete a move in which everyone had done his job expertly.

Orr's conversion edged Castleford ahead and if anyone looked likely to score again before the break it was them, although Brad Godden's stabbed kick gave a fleeting opportunity to Francis Cummins.

The same two players would have fashioned a try at the start of the second half but for a marvellous tackle by Darren Rogers on Cummins. Cas were still caught offside in the aftermath and Harris put over the equalising kick.

A second Harris penalty, when Rogers was caught offside, put Leeds ahead but Castleford's response was immediate and impressive. Lee Harland cut through the Leeds defence with an arcing run and Eager somehow managed to squeeze in at the corner. Cas were in front again but not for long, thanks to Harris' penalty after Brad Hepi's high tackle.

Both sides had more invitations to take the lead in an amazing passage of play, Rogers intercepting from Jackson to go 90 yards before being caught by Leroy Rivett.

Sheridan was sent to the sin-bin for delaying play, but Castleford wasted the penalty and then conceded one which Harris again surprisingly missed as Davis also began 10 minutes in the bin. Orr then failed twice with drop goal attempts to leave Cas with their third draw in their last six outings. An unusual sequence, no doubt, but probably the right result on the night.

Castleford: Flowers; Gay, Eagar, Rogers, Wells; Orr, Davis; Sykes, Hepi, Sampson, Tallec, Fritz, Vowles. Substitutes used: Pickering, Tonks, Harland, Ellison.

Leeds: Harris; Sterling, Golden, Godden, Cummins; Powell, Sheridan; Fleary, Jackson, McDermott, Morley, Farrell, Glanville. Substitutes used: Rivett, Mathiou, Hay, St Hilaire.

Referee: S Cummings (Widnes).