Wakefield Trinity Wildcats head coach Richard Agar was full of praise for his side’s performance at Wigan Warriors on Sunday.
Wildcats fell to a 44-24 defeat at the DW Stadium but played 70 minutes with 12 men and still managed to score more points against the Super League leaders than any other side so far this season.
Justin Poore saw red for punching Liam Farrell but that did not spark one-way traffic from Wigan, with Wildcats instead ensuring the contest stayed alive right until the end.
“We were a little bit disappointed that we didn’t get the opportunity to play them with 13 men, or 17 men if you like, because I thought we played some good stuff at times and I thought the 12 men made it a difficult contest,” said Agar.
“It’s hard enough coming to Wigan at any time of the year and you’d sooner have 14 men than 13 so to be down to 12 was a big blow, especially after only ten minutes.
“I’m really proud of the way our boys stuck together and I think for a team to post more points than anybody has scored against them this year with only 12 men on the field probably is a good reflection of some of the stuff we did with the ball and I thought we created a lot of opportunities throughout the game with 12 men.”
Agar admitted the decision to send Poore off was the right one, but believed the incident could have been avoided with some different calls from the officials in the build-up.
“No arguments whatsoever, it’s not the 1980s and you can’t do that anymore but what I would say I thought the incident could have been totally avoided,” he said.
“I thought in the build up to it there were a couple of what I’d consider really soft penalties. One for lying on and one undoubtedly Liam Farrell had trapped Tim Smith’s arm under his wing while he’s playing the ball and the penalty went against us.
“There was a tangle on the floor and I’d have to look at it again, somebody was telling me Liam Farrell threw the first punch, I personally didn’t see that but I feel Robert [Hicks] could have blown and given us the penalty and subsequently he did give us the penalty after the send-off.
“I felt he could have blown earlier and it could have pulled the players apart, I thought he let it tangle on to the point where they were stood up with their fists cocked ready to trade blows.
“Justin knows he just can’t do that, he’s hit him flush on the jaw and it could have caused Liam Farrell serious injury and fortunately in our sport in our sport your just not allowed to do that.”
Wakefield were also dealt a blow with an injury to full-back Richard Mathers. Mathers did not return to the field in the second half, with Paul Sykes instead filling in at full-back.
“He’s going to go off and get an X-ray,” said Agar. “We don’t know whether it’s ligaments, we’re going to check for a break in there in his ankle so we’ll get him seen to.”