Wakefield Wildcats wrap-up magnificent Easter with Leeds Rhinos victory

Craig Hall runs the wing to score Wildcats' match winning try at Leeds Rhinos.  Picture Bruce Rollinson
Craig Hall runs the wing to score Wildcats' match winning try at Leeds Rhinos. Picture Bruce Rollinson

Wakefield Trinity Wildcats completed a brilliant Easter double with a sensational 20-16 victory at rivals Leeds Rhinos.

Following on from their 36-22 home win over Huddersfield Giants on Good Friday, Wildcats snatched victory at Headingley thanks to Craig Hall’s decisive try two minutes from time.

Wakefield led three times and showed incredible resilience, particularly when reduced to 12 men for a spell late on, with Scott Moore in the sin-bin.

Winger Tom Johnstone had a sensational game and halves Jacob Miller and Liam Finn weren’t far behind, with Danny Kirmond and Matty Ashurst also impressing in a tremendous team effort.

Wakefield – who finished 27 points behind Leeds at the end of last year’s weekly rounds – looked like a confident team who are enjoying themselves. Rhinos did not.

Wakefield opened the scoring after 16 minutes, Miller – under no real pressure – timing his pass expertly to send Ashurst through a big gap and Finn converting.

Midway through the first half Leeds forced their first spell of pressure, but Josh Walters found himself at acting-half on the last and Mitch Garbutt and Adam Cuthbertson were next in line.

The latter’s kick led to a penalty and he won another after being pulled down just short. Beau Falloon also went close and then Liam Sutcliffe’s kick forced a goal line drop out.

The siege was lifted when Falloon knocked on. Wildcats’ defence stood up well, but at no stage did they appear to be hanging on and that passage of play illustrated the problems Rhinos have at the moment.

When Leeds eventually broke through, on 31 minutes, it came via a stroke of luck. Hardaker’s last-tackle kick took a deflection to Sutcliffe. He dived on the ball, it came free backwards and Moon picked up to surge over. Sutcliffe’s conversion levelled the scores.

Wakefield regained the lead before the interval. They were close to scoring a second try when Ashurst ran on to another nicely-timed pass by Miller, but he couldn’t get an arm free with Hall in support.

But Rhinos were penalised twice close to their own line, both for off-side and Finn took the two from the second of them.

Hardaker was held up over the Wildcats line at the start of the second half, but Wakefield increased their lead on 47. Ben Jones-Bishop, one of their former Leeds players, seemed to knock-on in front of his own posts, but it wasn’t given.

Miller’s long ball found Joe Arundel, he sent the pacy Johnstone clear on the left wing and the No 6 was in support to cross for a touchdown which Finn converted.

Rhinos came up with a rapid response, however, when the defence allowed Hardaker’s kick to bounce and Kallum Watkins gathered, wasn’t tackled and off-loaded off the ground to put Tom Briscoe in.

Wakefield showed tremendous desire and scrambled in magnificent fashion.

Moore was sin-binned for a professional foul and that should have been a turning point. Reece Lyne and Jason Walton managed to hold Jones-Buchanan up over the line, but Wakefield’s defence finally cracked with 12 minutes left when Achurch went over and Sutcliffe’s kick edged Leeds ahead.

A Finn goal – from Wildcats’ only penalty of the second half – levelled the scores.

Sutcliffe missed with a penalty attempt four minutes from time and when Ash Handley lost possession in the closing stages, a delighted Hall picked up to race the full length of the field and seal a famous win for Trinity.