WAKEFIELD Trinity Wildcats scored seven tries at Headingley Carnegie but couldn't overcome Leeds Rhinos in a breathless Super League contest on Monday night.
In a game where defences were lax and attacks took advantage, Richard Agar's battling Wildcats pushed the Super League champions all the way but couldn't record a fourth consecutive victory as they fell to a 44-40 defeat.
Rhinos, who'd lost just once in their last 12 meetings against Wakefield, started well and hit their visitors on the break twice early on, with Ben Jones-Bishop and Zak Hardaker taking advantage to steer Brian McDermott's out-of-sorts side into a 12-0 lead early on.
Wakefield have shown plenty of battling qualities of late however, most recently their superb come-from-behind win against Hull FC, and they turned the game on its head with tries from Ben Cockayne, Tim Smith and Dean Collis - all converted by Paul Sykes - to lead 18-12.
Rhinos rallied and Jamie Jones-Buchanan levelled matters before former Leeds favourite Ali Lauitiiti put Wildcats back ahead in the see-saw encounter. Leeds made sure they went into the break on level terms when Jones-Bishop grabbed his second of the match to make it 24-24.
Tries were traded again at the start of the second half when Wakefield's early pressure paid off with Kyle Trout powering over from close range but, at the other end, Weller Hauraki replied for the hosts. This time Leeds took a hold of the game and Jones-Bishop completed his hat-trick before Sinfield complemented his conversion with a penalty to put Rhinos eight points clear.
Still Wakefield weren't done and Oliver Wilkes crossed the whitewash to make it a tense finish. Carl Ablett then went over for the Rhinos but Wildcats kept the game alive with a minute to go when Peter Fox squeezed over in the corner.
Rhinos: Hardaker, Jones-Bishop, Ablett, Delaney, Hall, Sinfield, McGuire, Leuluai, Burrow, Griffin, Jones-Buchanan, Clarkson, Bailey. Subs: Ward, Lunt, Hauraki, Peacock.
Wildcats: Mathers, Fox, Collis, Mellars, Cockayne, Sykes, Smith, Amor, Aiton, Raleigh, Lauitiiti, Walshaw, Washbrook. Subs: Wood, Wilkes, Southern, Trout.
Referee: Richard Silverwood.
See this week's Wakefield Express for full report, pictures and reaction.