Challenge Cup final: Castleford Tigers 10-23 Leeds Rhinos
|Tetley's Challenge Cup final|
|Castleford Tigers (4) 10|
|Tries: Clark, Holmes Goals: Finn|
|Leeds Rhinos (16) 23|
|Tries: T. Briscoe, McGuire, Hall 2 Goals: Sinfield 3 Drop Goal: McGuire|
Ryan Hall was the match-winner as Leeds ended their long run without a Challenge Cup final win by beating Castleford at Wembley.
Winger Hall powered his way over for two tries as the Rhinos won the cup for the first time since winning the last decider at the old Wembley in 1999.
Daryl Clark and Oliver Holmes both scored tries for battling Castleford.
But tries from Tom Briscoe, Danny McGuire, man of the match Hall's brace, and a McGuire drop goal sealed victory.
Rhinos captain Kevin Sinfield added three successful conversions, capping a personal triumph as he finally got to lift the cup after five previous failures as skipper - putting right the one notable absentee from his big collection of victory medals.
And, although Lance Todd Trophy winner Hall stole the show, it was a deserved victory for the 12-times Cup winners.
Leeds got off to a flying start when winger Briscoe went over in the corner in the fifth minute, Sinfield adding the extras.
|Twelve final wins from 24 attempts|
|Only Wigan with 19 triumphs have enjoyed more Challenge Cup final wins than Leeds, whose victory equalled St Helens' tally of 12.|
|Wins: 2014, 1999, 1978, 1977, 1968, 1957, 1942, 1941, 1936, 1932, 1923, 1910 (required a replay)|
|Runners-up: 2012, 2011, 2010, 2005, 2003, 2000, 1995, 1994, 1972, 1971, 1947, 1943 (played over two legs)|
A penalty then given away by Carl Ablett led to three sets of six for Cas. And, after having a Justin Carney try chalked off when referee Phil Bentham blew for a penalty, they finally scored from the third of them on 13 minutes.
Marc Sneyd's clever kick through allowed Clark to gather before twisting to dive over the line and score.
But Sneyd failed with his chance to level the scores - and, little more than 10 minutes later, Leeds were two converted scores in front of Daryl Powell's Tigers.
First, Rob Burrow dinked a cheeky lob high into the air, Luke Dorn lost it in the sun and the more hungry McGuire pounced, climbing above the Cas full-back to dive over the line. And Sinfield once again converted.
|Powell sees former club celebrate like it was 1999|
|Castleford coach Daryl Powell, who was in the last Leeds team to win the Challenge Cup in 1999, began his coaching career with the Rhinos in 2002, before moving upstairs when Tony Smith arrived.|
Then, on 25 minutes, Hall produced a moment of sheer brute strength to score one of Wembley's more memorable tries.
Fed by McGuire just five yards out, there looked nothing on for Hall, with two Cas defenders - Kirk Dixon and Dorn - barring his way.
But the powerful 15 stone, six-foot winger simply put his head down and charged his way over, the Leeds top scorer claiming the 21st of his 22 tries this season.
|Road to Wembley glory|
|Round four||60-6 v Wakefield (A)|
|Round five||32-12 v St Helens (H)|
|Quarter-final||25-12 v Leigh (H)|
|Semi-final||24-16 v Warrington|
With a 16-4 lead at the break, the next score was crucial. And the game was alive as a contest once more seven minutes into the second half when Cas's England centre Michael Shenton made a break down the left to set up Holmes, who found the pace to go under the posts, Liam Finn converting.
But, with 15 minutes left, Hall showed Leeds' strength again when he again somehow powered his way over from close range, this time taking on even more Cas defenders.
Hall's 199th career try, his fourth in as many final appearances at Wembley, coupled with Sinfield's in-off-the-post conversion, gave Leeds breathing space.
McGuire's late drop goal even allowed the jubilant Leeds fans the luxury of enjoying the final few minutes.
|Spirit of 1986 not enough for Cas|
|Former Great Britain coach Mal Reilly, who took charge of the last Castleford side to win the Cup in 1986, was the guest of honour at Wembley.|
Wembley's first all-Yorkshire final in 28 years - since Castleford's last Challenge Cup win in 1986 - was watched by a crowd of 77,914, the second-lowest since the final returned to the stadium after a seven-year absence in 2007.
And, although the game may not go down as a classic, it was still a closely-fought contest climaxed by Leeds sealing their first Cup win in 15 years.
Leeds coach Brian McDermott told BBC Sport:
"It's a great feeling. It feels like we've finally delivered something. The players are an emotional group and we're now experiencing a mixture of relief and elation.
"I wasn't the coach for all of six cup final losses, but it feels like I was. You feel that mounting pressure. It's been a long journey.
"Credit to Danny McGuire, Kevin Sinfield and Rob Burrow. They managed it really well, and Ryan Hall's two tries were just freakish."
Castleford coach Daryl Powell told BBC Sport:
"We just weren't on our game and we'll have to learn from why we weren't. Had we delivered our best performance, we felt we could still be good enough to win.
"We got rattled before the break. Leeds were too quick for us. But we did get better in the second half and finally found some tempo.
"The big question now, for both sides, is where do we go from here? This game's gone now and it's how we respond to it that counts the most."
Challenge Cup final line-ups
Castleford Tigers: Dorn; Dixon, Webster, Shenton, Carney; Sneyd, Finn; Lynch, Clark, Huby, Holmes, Hauraki, Massey.
Replacements: Mariano, Wheeldon, Ellis, Jewitt.
Leeds Rhinos: Hardaker; Briscoe, Watkins, Moon, Hall; Sinfield, McGuire; Leuluai, Burrow, Peacock, Delaney, Ablett, Jones-Buchanan.
Replacements: Aiton, Bailey, Kirke, Sutcliffe.
Referee: Phil Bentham (RFL)