Leeds Rhinos welcomed Castleford Tigers to Headingley in a West Yorkshire Derby and picked up a 21-20 Golden Point victory but remained bottom of the table.
Castleford were makeshift in the halves, with Jordan Rankin out injured, meaning Paul McShane moved to half-back with Adam Milner starting at hooker and Callum Turner on the bench.
Leeds once again started young second-rower Cameron Smith, with Tom Holroyd making an appearance off the bench.
The opening score of the game, came in just the third minute. A mistake from makeshift half-back McShane meant that Leeds could shift the ball out to Konrad Hurrell.
The centre stood up Greg Minikin and bounced off Peter Mata’utia, James Clare and McShane to run over from 25 metres out. Liam Sutcliffe’s conversion ricocheted off the post for an early 4-0 lead.
Castleford were attempting to gain a foothold in the game but another mistake from McShane put a stop to that. He managed to brush off the tackle of Richie Myler. However, did so using a wild elbow and the half-back was lucky to escape without at least a sin-bin.
The Tigers believed they had levelled the score in the 22nd minute. Liam Watts dummied and charged over the line, with Myler dragging onto his coattails.
The try was confirmed by video referee James Childs. Peter Mata’utia then struck the upright with his conversion attempt to leave the scores at 4-4.
Miscommunication followed at the kick-off as Clare and Minikin both attempted to catch Jack Walkers kick-off and knock the ball into touch.
Konrad Hurrell took full advantage of this and broke through a huge gap in the Castleford defence. The gap was created by an obstruction by Jamie Jones-Buchanan on Alex Foster and the try was chalked off.
Leeds Rhinos crossed the whitewash again in the 27th minute. Liam Sutcliffe’s high kick was not caught cleanly but somehow the ball was squeezed out to Tom Briscoe who dived over in the corner.
The Video Referee was on hand once again though as he confirmed a slight knock-on by Kallum Watkins in the air and the scores remained 4-4.
It was third time lucky for the Rhinos though as Ash Handley picked up his ninth try of the season. Myler brushed off a big hit to throw the ball wide to Hurrell, who then duly tipped the ball to Handley to dive over in the corner.
Sutcliffe once again struck the upright once more as he made it three conversions out of three to hit the post.
Confusion ensued as Adam Milner picked the ball up from a slow play the ball as Junior Moors took a knock.
The hooker charged at the line as the Leeds defence looked all at seas. However, they reacted quick enough to deny the Tigers man.
Moors then left the field for a Head Injury Assessment.
With half-time looming, Richie Myler broke through the centre of the Castleford defence. Peter Mata’utia held the half-back down and conceded a try-saving penalty.
The Rhinos chose to take the shot at goal and Sutcliffe finally converted a goal to make the score 10-4 at the break.
HALF-TIME: LEEDS RHINOS 10-4 CASTLEFORD TIGERS
Jamie Jones-Buchanan was the first casualty of the second-half, as he left the field for a Head Injury Assessment which he would fail.
Tom Holroyd followed him to the dressing room, with a leg injury and would not return.
Despite losing two players, Leeds extended their lead further in the 49th minute. Kallum Watkins picked up Jake Trueman’s grubber to and broke 70 metres downfield.
This put the Rhinos on the front foot and and Jack Walker kept the ball alive by passing back inside to Liam Sutcliffe who raced 10 metres to score.
Cameron Smith took over the goal-kicking duties, but the result was the same as he dragged the ball wide.
A quickfire second followed. Brad Dwyer scooted from the ruck just outside the Castleford 10 metre line.
The hooker darted to the outside and rode the tackle of Matt Cook to offload the ball to Trent Merrin who burrowed over. Cameron Smith converted to make the score 20-4 with 25 minutes remaining.
Greg Minikin then put the Tigers back to within twelve points. Jake Trueman and Peter Mata’utia linked up in the halves and Minikin accelerated through the gap to score.
Full-back Callum Turner was then successful from the boot to make the deficit 10 points.
A 60 metre break from Matt Cook, put the Castleford on the front foot and the Tigers picked up a quickfire double of their own.
Grant Millington looked to be held up on the last tackle, but managed to offload to Peter Mata’utia and the play eventually ended with Chris Clarkson scoring against his former club.
Turner made it two from two with the boot and the scoreline read 20-16 with just over 15 minutes remaining.
Castleford were not giving up without a fight with less ten minutes of the game to go.
A huge defensive shift was followed up by an 80 metre set of six.
On the last, Mata’utia kicked the ball behind Hurrell and Alex Foster sprinted past the Tongan to dive on the ball and level the scores.
Turner then fluffed the kick as the scores remained 20-20.
Jake Trueman slotted a drop-goal for the Castleford Tigers but Liam Watts bumped Brad Dwyer off the ball and the scores were still level.
The Rhinos missed touch from the resulting penalty and the Tigers looked to win the game. Jake Trueman then missed his second attempt at a drop-goal.
Leeds then charged up the field to win the game themselves but Liam Sutcliffe’s one-point attempt was short.
With just seconds remaining, Castleford were less than 10 metres out and instead of going for the drop-goal, Paul McShane scooted from the ruck and was caught short as the game went to Golden Point and blew the chance for victory.
FULL-TIME NORMAL-TIME: LEEDS RHINOS 20-20 CASTLEFORD TIGERS (Golden Point)
Golden Point did not last long though as with the first possession of the game, the Rhinos hooker, Brad Dwyer kicked ,his first, and one of the ugliest drop-goals ever seen as the ball flew over the bar by a matter of metres.
FULL-TIME EXTRA-TIME: LEEDS RHINOS 21-20 CASTLEFORD TIGERS
MAN OF THE MATCH – Brad Dwyer :
The hooker, lead from the front when he was on the field. He wasn’t on the scoresheet in the 80 minutes but he did pick up the winning point with his 35 metre drop-goal.
Jack Walker, Tom Briscoe, Kallum Watkins, Konrad Hurrell, Ash Handley, Liam Sutcliffe, Richie Myler, Nathaniel Peteru, Brad Dwyer, Mikolaj Oledzki, Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Cameron Smith, Trent Merrin.
INTERCHANGES: Matt Parcell, James Donaldson, Brad Singletonn, Tom Holroyd.
TRIES: Konrad Hurrell, Ash Handley, Liam Sutcliffe, Trent Merrin
GOALS: Liam Sutcliffe (1/3), Cameron Smith (1/2)
DROP-GOALS: Brad Dwyer
Peter Mata’utia, James Clare, Greg Minikin, Michael Shenton, Greg Eden, Jake Trueman, Paul McShane, Liam Watts, Adam Milner, Grant Millington, Jesse Sene-Lefao, Alex Foster, Oliver Holmes.
INTERCHANGES: Junior Moors, Matt Cook, Calum Turner, Chris Clarkson.
TRIES: Liam Watts, Greg Minikin, Chris Clarkson, Alex Foster,
GOALS: Peter Mata’utia (0/1), Callum Turner (2/3)