Castleford Tigers coach Daryl Powell hailed the biggest win of his time in charge at the club after defeating Super League champions Leeds Rhinos 18-14.
Tigers were on a three-game losing run and missing a host of key players going into the game.
But they got off to the best possible start, with Andy Lynch and Jake Webster scoring early tries to give them a 12-0 lead.
Leeds hit back through Kallum Watkins, Tom Briscoe and Joel Moon to lead 14-12 at half-time and it took Powell’s men until the 74th minute to score the winner through man of the match Webster.
The former New Zealand international has filled in superbly for injured centre Michael Shenton, but proved equally effective when switching to the second row, which enabled former York centre Greg Minikin to make his Super League debut as a second-half substitute.
“That’s more like it,” said Powell, whose team had been hammered 56-12 at Warrington Wolves in their previous outing six days earlier.
“We didn’t get everything right, but we worked hard and the effort was magnificent.
“I asked the players for something special individually and they certainly delivered that.
“For a team that has been rattled a fair bit, it was a magnificent effort, it’s probably the biggest win since I’ve been at the club.
“We’ve been in a really tough place and I asked the players individually for something special and they certainly delivered that.
“It was a big relief to break the losing cycle. There’s been lot of soul-searching this week and the players responded really well.”
Rhinos boss Brian McDermott admitted his team were “off” at the start which ultimately proved costly. But he insisted he was still encouraged by the effort his team put in.
“I thought we were off at the start, only for a short period at the beginning, but it got them field position and they scored a couple of tries which didn’t really go with the flow of the game,” said McDermott.
“While they were good plays and Castleford deserved to score them, I didn’t think it was because they tired us out or got us on a play we couldn’t handle – we were just off.
“After that I thought we gave it a real go, I thought we gave that game our guts.
“I don’t have too much of an issue with the loss and I am encouraged there’s a group of men there that’s trying their hardest.
“They are absolutely trying and giving the game their guts, but the start was off for us.”
Captain Danny McGuire had been named in Rhinos’ initial 19-man squad, but did not make the 17.
He has not featured since suffering a knee injury in the opening game of the season, but has said he is hopeful of featuring at home to Wakefield Trinity Wildcats on Easter Monday.
Asked if McGuire will play in three days’ time, McDermott said: “Possibly, but I doubt it.”