A TRY from Andrew Schick 20 seconds into injury time gave Castleford victory in a knife's-edge Silk Cut Challenge Cup tie at Headingley. Leeds' dogged persistence seemed to have won the day as time ran out and Adrian Vowles kicked, more in hope than expectation, on the last tackle of Castleford's last attack.
His fellow Australian was surrounded by Leeds defenders but Schick leaped above them to claim the ball and plunge over. There was just time for Brad Davis' kick to confirm victory.
Castleford were thoroughly impressive for the first half-hour, moving the ball intelligently and switching the point of attack to dangerous effect. It was, however, a switch they had not planned to make that produced the only try of the first half. Forced to reorganise when their hooker, Danny Orr, went off with a neck injury after only eight minutes, Castleford brought on their winter signing, Francis Maloney, whose first touch was a searching flat pass to send Barrie-Jon Mather through Francis Cummins' tackle.
Maloney's second contact with the ball was the successful conversion and with Orr recovering sufficiently to sit on the bench and Castleford's attack looking by far the more potent, all was well.
The balance seemed to shift further in their favour when the Leeds stand- off, Tony Kemp, was sin-binned for taking out Vowles with his distinctively bandaged right forearm. Maloney missed the resulting penalty kick but Mike Ford soon extended Castleford's lead with a drop goal.
The visitors failed to make their one-man advantage tell after that point. Indeed, Leeds began to display more cohesion than they had managed with a full complement and Iestyn Harris got them on the scoreboard with a penalty after Michael Smith had held down Adrian Morley.
Despite nominally playing at full-back, Harris was calling many of the shots for Leeds in midfield and his clever kickthrough had to be saved by Jason Flowers. He could then have put Leroy Rivett over for a try, had it not been for Jason Critchley's enveloping tackle. Roles were reversed early in the second half when Rivett caught Critchley after Maloney had broken clear. Castleford then spurned the consolation prize of a penalty when Maloney's effort drifted wide. Leeds soon made them pay, the Welshman Harris kicking a penalty.
Worse quickly followed, Dean Lawford, impressively sharp at hooker all afternoon, created and then raced through a gap and Kemp was in support to score with ease, leaving Harris a simple conversion.
Castleford came back to within one point with Davis's kick before another debatable penalty, this time for Flowers making contact with Cummins gave Leeds what looked, in the context of such a tight match, a match-winning lead.
Leeds: Harris; Sterling, Blackmore, Cummins, Rivett; Kemp, Sheridan; Masella, Lawford, Fleary, Morley, Farrell, Glanville. Substitutes used: Holroyd, McDermott, Hay, Mathiou.
Castleford: Flowers; Gay, Mather, Vowles, Critchley; Davis, Ford; Sampson, Orr, McKell, Schick, Sykes, Harland. Substitutes used: Wells, Maloney, Smith, Tallec.
Referee: J Connolly (Wigan).Reuse content