Friday, October 7, 2022

Jack Sinfield unable to provide a spark as Leeds are sunk by Castleford | Super League

The second half of Super League’s gruelling Easter double-header is rarely short on narrative. With clubs playing three times in little more than a week there is the potential for seasons to be defined, one way or another. That certainly felt the case as Castleford and Leeds played out a contest riddled with tension.

On the day when Jack Sinfield, son of the legendary Rhinos and England captain Kevin, made his professional debut at the age of 17, the long-held belief at Headingley that he can help be part of a new dynasty of success at Super League’s most successful club will have to wait for now. There are more pressing matters for Leeds to deal with, such as the fact that with more than a third of the regular season gone, they are in the thick of a relegation battle.

There are positives. Amid has huge injury crisis a number of encouraging performances from youngsters means the future is bright. And they are improving. The interim coach, Jamie Jones-Buchanan, said: “We’re a million miles away from where we were a month ago,” and he is right in terms of the Rhinos’ effort and endeavor – but they need to start winning games.

The level of anticipation on Sinfield’s shoulders was raised due to his surname but the reality is a 17-year-old half-back was never likely to have a discernible impact on a team with one win from 10 matches in all competitions this season. Richard Agar’s successor, who will be named next week, has a big job on his hands.

Liam Watts breaks away to score what proved to be a decisive try for Castleford. Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA

There was no doubting Leeds performed with spirit but they fell short once again, with Liam Watts’s try in the decisive final minutes. With Hull KR prevailing against Toulouse on Monday it means Leeds remain one point clear of the bottom-placed club but still two wins adrift of the two teams above them, Wakefield and Salford, who lost against Wigan and Catalans respectively.

“It was a typical Bank Holiday Monday game – they’re in a bad spot and we exposed that,” Castleford’s coach, Lee Radford, said. James Clare and Derrell Olpherts scored tries to put the hosts 8-0 ahead but on the stroke of half-time Rhyse Martin seized on an error to narrow the gap to two at the break.

Errors from both sides in the second half kept it tight and tense. Gareth O’Brien and Martin exchanged penalties on the hour to make it 10-8 in Castleford’s favor before a big moment. James Bentley was sent to the sin-bin and three minutes later Watts broke free to score.

Martin’s second try set up a nervous final few minutes for Castleford but the outcome was a familiar one for those who followed the Rhinos in 2022.

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