Wakefield Wildcats: Wildcats too strong for spirited Hemel Stags in Challenge Cup

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Wakefield Trinity Wildcats saw off a spirited Hemel Stags 66-6 to progress in the Tetley’s Challenge Cup fourth round on Saturday night.

The Super League side never looked in danger of being on the end of a cup shock but Kingstone Press Championship One Stags gave a good account of themselves at the Rapid Solicitors Stadium.

Hemel produced some great defence to limit Wakefield to a 36-6 lead at the hour mark before tired legs from the visitors allowed Wildcats to post a flattering scoreline with five tries in the final 20 minutes.

Jon Molloy scored a brace on his Wildcats debut from second row while Lee Smith posted 26 points thanks to two tries and nine conversions from as many attempts.

Stags got their reward through a try from Aaron Smalls in the first half.

Wildcats head coach Richard Agar rung the changes for the match, resting a number of key players and giving youth a chance to impress. Wildcats U19s players Ben Shulver and Dan Maskill made their debuts from the bench and Molloy, a midweek addition from Huddersfield Giants, also made his first Wakefield appearance. Justin Poore was handed the captaincy on his return from suspension.

At a sunny Rapid Solicitors Stadium Hemel started well, defending their line and turning over their sets in good position despite not threatening the Wildcats line.

Reece Lyne almost put Lucas Walshaw in for Wakefield’s first try but Smalls, arguably Hemel’s man of the match, got a vital touch to deny the Super League side the opening score.

Stags held out until the ninth minute when Liam Kay led a breakaway and fed Molloy to score on his debut. Smith was handed kicking duties and he added the extras.

The try looked to have opened the floodgates when Matty Wildie extended the Wildcats lead three minutes later from close range and skipper Justin Poore took a short Kyle Wood pass to get on the scoresheet.

But Hemel showed plenty of spirit and, after a lull in play, managed to get on the scoresheet when they took advantage of a Wildcats error. Lee Smith held his head in his hands as Hemel centre Smalls intercepted a pass to race 60 metres and score. Scrum-half Mike Bishay added the extras.

The try drew applause from all four sides of the Rapid Solicitors Stadium and Hemel were buoyed, limiting Wakefield to just one more try, from Frankie Mariano, before half-time.

Stags started the second half as they had finished the first, with stern defence keeping out the early Wakefield pressure.

That was until Frankie Mariano put Smith in for a try six minutes after the restart. A fifth successful conversion took his personal points tally to 14.

Hemel did not fold, however, and continued to offer stern resistance to everything their hosts had to throw at them. The Stags had to see out three straight Wakefield sets on their own line but defended them well and left Wakefield frustrated.

The Pennine Way side, cheered on by a decent following, offered a few bursts of pressure on the Wakefield line and showcased their enthusiasm for the tie by forcing a drop out with 15 minutes to play.

They could not carve out a bit of quality to score a second try, however, and Wildcats made them pay five tries in the final 20 minutes to add gloss to the scoreline as Stags started to tire.

Kyle Wood put Molloy in for his second with 12 minutes to play before Kyle Trout and Lee Smith followed him over the whitewash. Debutant Shulver then ensured he had a day to remember, getting on the end of a Matty Wildie break to score on his debut before winger Liam Kay added his second of the match.

Stags were rightly applauded off the field by the Wildcats supporters for their efforts and Wildcats will look forward to the fifth round draw on Monday afternoon.

Wildcats: Lyne, Kay, Cowling, Mellars, Walshaw, L Smith, Wood, Poore (c), Wildie, Raleigh, Mariano, Molloy, Trout. Subs: Amor, Wilkes, Shulver, Maskill.

Stags: Forgham, Johnson, Caton-Brown, Smalls, Rochester-Bremer, Sharp, Bishay, Howitt, Miranda, Pritchard, McLeod, Ingarfield, Molloy. Subs: Ljizouli, Swindells, Hobbs, Mbaraga.

Referee: Peter Brooke.

Attendance: 2,456.