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Terry Mattersonís Castleford Tigers have stopped an unbeaten Leeds Rhinos team before, so I have no doubt theyíre more than capable doing it again. Cast your mind back to Friday 7th March 2008 when Leeds had just been crowned world club champions after defeating Melbourne Storm 11 Ė 4 in what arguably was the toughest match in the modern era of the game. Prior to that game the Rhinos were unbeaten in super league thanks to victories against Hull KR, Huddersfield Giants, Wakefield Trinity Wildcats and Catalans Dragons. This Leeds team were on a roll in 2008 and it took something very special indeed to stop it and it came in the shape of an impressive performance by Castleford.
Like many Rhinos fans on that March evening I was expecting the Rhinos to win the match with ease, like they'd done in every other match during the early stages of that super league season. After all it was only Castleford, and they'd just been promoted. Castleford shouldnít have been relegated at all but Iíll save my anti-Wigan undertones for another column, another day. Anyhow this particular game didnít have any points until the sixteenth minute when Scott Donald raced in for a sensational try which was to be followed by two others later in the game. To this day Scott Donaldís try against Castleford still remains one of my favourite moments as a Rhinos fan. Sinfield converted.
Excitement didnít last long as it was then the turn of the young player with all the potential in the world, Westerman, to go over the try line. Castleford couldnít get the conversion over so Leeds were still in the lead at that point. Not for long though as Stuart Donlan went over for another Castleford try two minutes early. Castleford went on to score another try in that first half and the Rhinos team looked like theyíve just come through an office shredder. The boys from below were cutting them to smithereens!
The agony only got more unbearable in the second half thanks to Michael Shenton posting and early brace of tries. Scott Donald scored his second half brace before Ryan McGoldrick went over for another try to make it 30 - 14 with 17 minutes to go. Jordan Tansey went over for what looked like a consolation try on the 75th minute. But it was the Tigers who had the last laugh thanks to a try posted by Luke Dorn in the final minute of the game. The score ended 38 Ė 20 to the Tigers.
Other than that the Rhinos record against the Tigers has been pretty good since that match. I reckon weíll go onto Wembley, but thereís always that niggling doubt in the back of the mind because of that match in 2008. A lot of the Castleford personnel have changed since then but one person hasnít and thatís the head coach. Terry Matterson has been a fantastic servant to rugby league and has bought Castleford as far as he possible could. Itíll be a shame that his team donít make it to the final, but itíll be comforting to know that someone can build on the platform that Matterson has laid.
Itís not a bad one eh?
Thanks for reading and a big thanks to RLPhotos as always for the photographs.