THEY were never going to do it easily were they?
Leeds Rhinos, bottom of Super League and under immense pressure, had lost their last 11 league games against Castleford Tigers and were on a five-match losing streak heading into this contest.
They had also developed a worrying knack of throwing away healthy leads so, when surging 20-4 ahead in the 53rd minute last night, supporters would not have taken anything for granted.
When, then, they conceded three tries in 10 crazy minutes to see that advantage disappear to leave it level at the death, even head coach Dave Furner must have feared the worst for his crestfallen team heading into Golden Point.
However, within just 50 seconds of that extra-time period starting, Leeds sent the majority of Emerald Headingley ecstatic; Brad Dwyer, with remarkable composure considering he never normally kicks, slotting a wonderful 40m drop goal to seal it, the first one-pointer of his career.
Castleford will be fuming; Jake Trueman saw one effort narrowly miss in the closing stages of normal time and then had another ruled out after Liam Watts blocked the chasing Dwyer.
Incredulously, Paul McShane had also tried unsuccessfully dummying over on the last tackle when Trueman was set for a third attempt in the final seconds.
McShane - the hooker who started at scrum-half after Jordan Rankin strained a hamstring in their final practice - had an off-night and was lucky to stay on the field after he appeared to forearm Rhinos' Richie Myler in the face when carrying the ball himself in the 12th minute.
Leeds had worked their way into that 20-4 lead after scoring back-to-back tries.
Furner’s side had real momentum after Trent Merrin - who excelled again last night - had barrelled over for converted try from Cameron Smith following fine work from Dwyer, the diminutive hooker who fizzed around all night.
They had scored just beforehand in more fortuitous circumstances, a Jake Trueman kick hitting Kallum Watkins, the Leeds captain who then charged 40m downfield.
Calum Turner reached him but quick interplay from Liam Sutcliffe and Jack Walker saw Sutcliffe - retaining his place with Tui Lolohea still dropped - diving over.
However, their old issues came back to haunt them as Castleford hit them with their own quickfire double blast.
Centre Greg Minikin went over on the hour mark after the excellent Peter Mata’utia provided the killer pass and then Leeds collapsed at the restart.
Matt Cook surged past a woeful Nathaniel Peteru tackle attempt to motor upfield and, from Grant Millington’s superb offload, McShane fired a pass for Chris Clarkson to dive over.
Youngster Turner, a late call-up after Rankin’s injury, converted both but could not do so when Alex Foster - the former Wetherby Bulldog once released by Rhinos - latched onto Mata’utia’s grubber and that would prove costly.
Leeds claimed an early lead with a trademark try from Konrad Hurrell.
McShane spilled a standard pass 40m from his own line gifting the big Tongan centre position and possession he relishes.
He accepted a pass and got on the outside of Minikin far too easily before simply brushing off McShane’s flailing grab and then powering over the top of Mata’utia, one of the most reliable full-backs in Super League.
James Clare made a token effort but by that point the runaway train was not halting.
Liam Sutcliffe struck a post with the conversion attempt, setting in motion a bizarre sequence of three successive kicks doing likewise, one from Mata’utia and another from the Leeds player.
Typically, Rhinos gifted the ball away in the set after Hurrell’s try but the 17 stone centre was on hand to retrieve the situation.
There is such a thing as a hospital pass in rugby but it is more akin to a cemetery ball when he is looming; just ask Alex Foster who was pummelled into submission.
Castleford, though adequate in their work, lacked any finesse or cutting edge at the other end and it was Leeds who, generally, looked more dangerous.
Indeed, they went on to have two more ‘tries’ rightly ruled out by video referee James Child in quick succession.
Hurrell charged back on an angle from Jack Walker’s drop-off only for one of those horrible ‘obstruction’ calls to be made while Tom Briscoe was denied as Kallum Watkins had knocked forward when challenging for a high kick.
Still, with Dwyer sniping around from dummy-half, Walker similarly effusive from full-back, Myler controlling and Merrin leading the way up front, they were good value.
Castleford had levelled in the 22nd minute, though, with the sort of try that has been leaving Furner cursing, the prop Watts - called up by England this week - accepting a pass and dummying over from 10m on the last tackle.
Tigers’ night was summed up, though, when Minikin and Clare got in the way of each other trying to deal with Walker’s restart, only conspiring to spill it into touch.
A flare of some sort had gone off at that end from the Castleford fans but they certainly did not lose sight in the smoke; Greg Eden on the left endured a nightmare last week in the heavy loss against St Helens but it was Daryl Powell’s right-side who had a night to forget here.
When Clare spilled trying to get to his feet, Leeds got in for their second try in the 31st minute, Hurrell attracting defenders to send Ash Handley over in the corner.
Sutcliffe could not improve but after Mata’utia had halted a breaking Myler - the second time he had cut the Leeds scrum-half down in full flight - the Samoan held on too long allowing the Rhino to put the hosts 10-4 ahead at the break before all of that predictable drama.
Leeds Rhinos: Walker; Briscoe, Watkins, Hurrell, Handley; Sutcliffe, Myler; Peteru, Dwyer, Oledzki, Jones-Buchanan, Smith, Merrin. Substitutes: Parcell, Donaldson, Singleton, Holroyd.
Castleford Tigers: Mata’utia; Clare, Minikin, Shenton, Eden; Trueman, McShane; Watts, Milner, Millington, Sene-Lefao, Holmes. Substitutes: Moors, Clark, Turner, Clarkson.
Referee: Ben Thaler (Wakefield)