Hardaker shines as Tigers beat Rhinos, Salford suffer late heartache


Zak Hardaker came back to haunt Leeds Rhinos with a stunning 90-metre solo try as Castleford Tigers strengthened their lead at the top of Super League with a 23-12 win at Headingley.

Hardaker left Leeds on loan for Penrith Panthers in 2016 and has been on similar terms with Cas this year, although the Tigers do have a deal in place to make it permanent.

And they will be delighted they do after he starred in a thrilling victory for Daryl Powell's side that moves them seven points clear at the summit.

A tight opening 40 on Friday saw Greg Eden's converted try and a penalty from Luke Gale give the Tigers an 8-6 lead, but a spurt just after the restart pulled them clear.

Hardaker began it with a stunning run - and equally impressive celebration in front of the booing Leeds fans - before Grant Millington also touched down, with Gale adding the extras each time.

Adam Cuthbertson grabbed a try back for Leeds, but it was a mere consolation as Hardaker and Cas were able to celebrate a 16th win of the season and third over the hosts this year.

Hull FC are their nearest challengers thanks to a comprehensive 40-18 victory over Wakefield Trinity, Marc Sneyd inspirational as the home side ran in seven tries at the KCOM Stadium.

That win lifted them above Salford Red Devils, who were beaten in the final seconds at St Helens, Matty Smith's dramatic late drop goal sealing a sensational comeback for Saints.

Salford had led 24-8 with 17 minutes remaining, but Saints powered back into the match with three tries - two of which were converted - and Smith's late winner.

Meanwhile, Huddersfield Giants and Wigan Warriors both missed the chance to pull away from the bottom four at the John Smith's Stadium as they shared a thrilling 19-19 draw - the Giants letting a 13-0 lead slip from their grasp.