Super League: Leeds Rhinos 24-24 Castleford Tigers
Leeds Rhinos 24 (18)
- Briscoe, Bailey, Ablett (2)
- Sinfield (4)
Castleford Tigers 24 (18)
- Shenton, Hauraki, Massey, Millington
- Sneyd (4)
Castleford snatched a draw against new Super League leaders Leeds Rhinos, who had captain Kevin Sinfield sent off for a headbutt on back Luke Dorn.
Michael Shenton and Weller Hauraki scored for Cas either side of Ryan Bailey and Tom Briscoe tries for Leeds.
Carl Ablett crossed for Leeds and Nathan Massey for Tigers before the break, and Ablett added his second.
Rhinos looked solid until Sinfield's dismissal with eight minutes to go as Grant Millington grabbed the leveller.
It was a lapse of discipline from the England skipper who, after exchanging words with Australian Dorn following a tackle, rutted his head towards the Castleford stand-off and saw red for the first time in his career.
|Sinfield the Saint|
|Kevin Sinfield has played 300 Super League games, kicked more than 1,200 goals, and scored 46 tries. This was his first red card.|
Leeds looked to have taken charge of what had been an end-to-end game, but Tigers' man advantage in the final few minutes proved enough for them to find the breakthrough.
Sinfield's actions will not only be felt in this game though, with the potential of anything up to an eight-game ban looming, depending on how aggressive a disciplinary panel views the offence.
The draw was enough to put Brian McDermott's side at the top of the table, above St Helens on points difference, at least until the weekend's games are completed.
There is potential for these two sides to meet each other in the Challenge Cup final, should they both come through their respective semi-finals.
Both teams looked particularly susceptible to deep kicks early on, with the first three scores created by the boot.
Shenton put the visitors in front in the first minute by gathering Marc Sneyd's kick, after Kevin Peacock had relinquished possession.
Leeds replied with a quick double as Briscoe beat Justin Carney in the air to touchdown and then Bailey capitalised on Castleford's indecision under a high one from Sinfield.
|Third-place Castleford on course for best Super League finish|
Rhinos have conceded the fewest points in Super League this year, but they continued to belie their usual defensive solidity by twice letting Cas get back on level terms.
Kirk Dixon cut in off the sideline and offloaded to Hauraki for Tigers' second score, before Ablett restored a six-point lead with a superb break, although the second-row almost lost the ball on the line before regathering and planting for the try.
The Rhinos defence would go missing again though when Massey strolled under the posts direct from receiving a play-the-ball 10 metres out.
The home side were handed a let off when Carney's try was ruled out for an earlier, debatable obstruction.
But when Joel Moon's kick took a kind deflection for Ablett to finish, Rhinos looked to have few worries and probed for the drop goal that would finish off their opponents.
It never came though, and Sinfield's moment of madness allowed Lee Jewitt to find Milington in space to secure a point for Cas and third place in the table.
Leeds Rhinos: Hardaker, T Briscoe, Watkins, Moon, Hall, Sinfield, McGuire, Leuluai, Aiton, Peacock, Ablett, Ward, Delaney
Substitutes: Achurch, Burrow, Bailey, Jones-Buchanan
Castleford Tigers: Dorn, Dixon, Webster, Shenton, Carney, Sneyd, Finn, Lynch, Milner, Jewitt, Holmes, Hauraki, Millington
Substitutes: Huby, Massey, Clark, Mariano
Referee: Ben Thaler