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Clinical Hall torments Tigers
England international crosses three times to sink brave Castleford
Ryan Hall grabbed a hat-trick of tries to help Leeds come away from the PROBIZ Coliseum with a hard-fought 36-14 triumph over Castleford.
The England international crossed twice in the first half to help open up an 18-point lead before his third put paid to the Tigers' brave comeback bid with 18 minutes to play.
The Rhinos condemned their Yorkshire rivals to a fourth straight Stobart Super League defeat, but having been thumped by Wigan in their last home game less than a week ago, the Tigers turned in a much-improved performance in front of the Sky Sports cameras.
They were the more dominant side in the opening 10 minutes, yet it was still the Rhinos who broke the deadlock when some neat handling allowed Hall to pirouette and plant the ball down in the left corner.
To their credit Castleford responded impressively to falling behind, a handling error by Richard Owen scuppering a glorious chance before Rangi Chase had a try chalked off for a knock-on.
It seemed Leeds would suffer a similar fate when Zak Hardaker touched a pass intended for Hall, only for television referee Richard Silverwood to decide the ball had not gone forward. The try was, therefore, allowed to stand, much to the disappointment of the home crowd watching the replays.
Then, pressing for an immediate response, Castleford coughed the ball up and paid a dear price, Kallum Watkins catching Nathan Massey's error on the full and shrugging off two tackles to burst clear, making it an 18-0 scoreline.
The game changed, however, with the introduction of Daryl Clark from the home bench. The hooker sparked his side into life when he dived over from dummy half, in part helped by the padding around the base of the right post.
Before the Rhinos had been allowed to catch their breath they had conceded again, Kirk Dixon having the strength to force his way over from Chase's pass.
An eight-point deficit was cut in half when Josh Griffin, younger brother of Leeds forward Darrell, scooped up a loose ball near his own line and set off down the right touchline to the other end of the field, though his failure to bring the ball further infield left Dixon with a tough kick he just couldn't land.
His second missed goal meant Leeds kept their noses just ahead, even if it did need a monumental home stand in defence to keep the gap at four.
In the end, though, the Tigers simply couldn't keep the Rhinos at bay. Hall finally put some daylight between the teams when he waltzed over in the left corner, Brent Webb and Hardaker combining to set up their team-mate.
Deflated and defeated, the fight went from the Tigers in the closing minutes, allowing their opponents to cross twice more and give the final scoreline a rather lop-sided look that did not do the match justice.
Danny McGuire produced a moment of individual magic to get his 22nd try in 18 career appearances against Cas, while debutant Liam Hood made an instant impression when he dummied over from a quickly-tapped penalty having only come onto the field a minute earlier.
Kevin Sinfield landed both kicks to finish six-for six at goal, completing a perfect night for Leeds, who look in fine fettle ahead of next Friday's heavyweight showdown at Headingley with Warrington.
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Christine Speight says...
I would just like to say that I have never in Super League history turned off a game, well that was until last night. After 25 minutes, and a great number of let's say dodgy decisions, I had seen just enough. Absolutely astonishing. Castleford deserved better. And I'm a wigan fan
Posted 08:16 3rd March 2012
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Super League Table
|9||Hull K R||22||20|
|11||Salford Red Devils||22||17|
|13||Bradford Bulls *||22||4|
|Thursday 31st July|
|20:00||Wigan vs Salford|
|Friday 1st August|
|20:00||Hull vs St Helens|
|20:00||Catalan Dragons vs Warrington|
|20:00||Leeds vs Bradford|
|Sunday 3rd August|
|15:00||Widnes vs Hull K R|
|15:00||Wakefield vs Huddersfield|
|15:30||Castleford vs London Broncos|
|Thursday 14th August|
|20:00||Hull K R vs Wigan|
|Friday 15th August|
|20:00||Salford vs Catalan Dragons|
|20:00||Warrington vs Castleford|
|Sunday 27th July|
|Huddersfield 38 - 16 Catalan Dragons|
|Bradford 16 - 8 Wigan|
|Warrington 26 - 40 Wakefield|
|Saturday 26th July|
|London Broncos 10 - 62 Hull K R|
|Friday 25th July|
|Salford 18 - 22 Leeds|
|St Helens 44 - 22 Widnes|
|Thursday 24th July|
|Hull 18 - 18 Castleford|
|Sunday 20th July|
|Hull K R 18 - 38 Salford|
|Huddersfield 52 - 26 Bradford|
|Saturday 19th July|
|Catalan Dragons 40 - 6 Wakefield|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Stevo with skysports.com