Sinfield sees red as Rhinos held
10:31pm Thursday 17th July 2014 in © Press Association 2014
Leeds and England captain Kevin Sinfield was sensationally sent off for the first time in his career as the Rhinos were held to a dramatic 24-24 draw by Castleford in a pulsating derby at Headingley.
Sinfield was shown a red card for an uncharacteristic head-butt on Castleford full-back Luke Dorn eight minutes from the end of a tense and keenly-fought match, with his side leading 24-18.
Castleford took advantage of the extra man to score an equalising try through loose forward Grant Millington two minutes later and, although both sides failed with late drop-goal attempts to break the deadlock, that is the way it stayed.
The point was enough to take Leeds back to the top of the First Utility Super League but the talking point was the dismissal of Sinfield, who was awarded the MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours for services to rugby league.
Two opportunist tries from second rower Carl Ablett were the highlight of a high-tempo game that flowed from the first whistle and was marred only by referee Ben Thaler's insistence on over-use of his video assistant.
Castleford drew first blood through skipper Michael Shenton, touching down after his winger Justin Carney had palmed the ball back from Marc Sneyd's high kick, but a knock-on from the re-start by winger Kirk Dixon put his side under pressure.
Rhinos scrum-half Danny McGuire had a try ruled out by video referee Phil Bentham before the home side struck with two tries in quick succession.
Right winger Tom Briscoe outjumped his opposite number Carney to touch down McGuire's towering kick before substitute forward Ryan Bailey scored with his first touch after left-wing pair Ryan Hall and Joel Moon had both kept the ball alive superbly from Sinfield's kick.
Dixon made amends for his earlier error by creating the space for former Leeds second rower Weller Hauraki to go over for an equalising try and the visitors would have been back in front but for some heroics by Zak Hardaker, back from a five-match ban.
First the full-back pulled off a trysaving tackle on Dorn and then forced a handling error from Sneyd over the line.
It seemed which ever side had the ball were destined to score and Ablett was the next to do so, forcing his way past a trio of defenders on a solo run to the line and juggling with the ball before grounding it.
Sinfield kicked his third conversion to make it 18-12 but the scores were tied once more seven minutes before the break when Castleford substitute Nathan Massey proved unstoppable from 10 metres out to score his first try of the season with his first touch.
There was no let-up to the action in the second half as play continued to swing from end to end.
Leeds were indebted once more to Hardaker after he halted a break by Castleford's livewire hooker Daryl Clark and they were relieved to see Carney's try disallowed by Bentham for obstruction in the build-up by Shenton.
When it was the Rhinos' turn to attack, the ever-dangerous Moon was twice bundled into touch by Webster at the corner and prop Kylie Leuluai was held up over the line.,
Leeds had another escape when Millington could only get his finger tips to the ball from Shenton's kick and they were in luck when Ablett scored his second try to regain the lead on 58 minutes.
Moon's grubber kick on the last tackle rebounded off Webster and Ablett twice hacked the ball forward before diving on it just centimetres from the dead-ball line.
Sinfield's fourth goal restored his side's six-point lead and his drop-goal attempt that would have made the game safe was charged down.
It was to be Sinfield's last contribution as he was dismissed for his rush of blood, but there was no end to the action.
Two consecutive penalties enabled Castleford to pile on the pressure and it paid off when Millington took Lee Jewitt's pass to charge through a gaping hole in the Leeds defence.
Sneyd kicked his fourth goal to tie the scores and Jamie Peacock and Sneyd both failed with one-point attempts to win it.