Agar praises Wildcats’ second-half Hull KR showing after below-par opening

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WAKEFIELD Trinity Wildcats head coach Richard Agar said it was the proverbial game of two halves for his side in their last-gasp win over Hull KR on Sunday.

Wildcats trailed 14-8 at Craven Park at half-time before turning the game on its head with a much-improved second-half showing that saw Paul Sykes kick a late drop-goal winner for the second week running.

It gave Wakefield a fifth win on the spin, the first time they’ve achieved that feat since 2009, and moved them above the Robins to boost their Super League play-off hopes with two games to go.

But Agar admitted his side were lucky to still be in the game at the interval, with Peter Fox scoring a try right on the hooter to reduce the deficit.

“We were very, very lucky to be in the game at half-time,” he said.

“We’ve had a lot of press and people talking about the top-eight and stuff like that, maybe it got to us a bit because I thought our performance in the first half was way, way off where we needed to be.

“Having said that, I thought we came back great in the second half and we were a very dominant side for the best part of that game.”

He continued: “We really got the wind in our sails in the second half. We got on the back of some good momentum and again we kicked the ball exceptionally well in the second half, which is certainly not what we did in the first half.”

Sykes’s late, late drop-goal winner was almost a carbon copy of his winner against St Helens in the previous round.

And Agar joked: “I’m not sure we can pull it off again next game in similar circumstances.”

He added: “I think I’m in a similar spot to where I was at the end of last week’s game, sort of resigned to whatever way the game goes.

“One of the things I’ve learnt from my time in the game is you’ll always get a chance.

“We just didn’t want, at that stage, Hull KR to get a chance, that was the worry for us.

“We got a penalty when we needed it most but it was a penalty, there were absolutely no qualms whatsoever. I thought we could have had one the tackle before.”

The Wildcats head coach said he was “disappointed in the manner in which the game was refereed”. “I’ve not seen rucks like that all season, I don’t know where it came from. The tempo of it was just so slow, it was tough for both teams. I think we struggled to get around that first half.”

He continued: “I felt nothing went for us. The trip on Kyle Amor under the posts should have been a penalty, I’ve seen Ben Galea drop the ball and allowed to play on, I’ve seen Ben Cockayne penalised with the ball in his hand when he’s done absolutely nothing and I just felt things were going to conspire against us.”

But Agar did reserve special praise for the Hull KR fans, who provided a warm welcome for two-try hero Ben Cockayne on his return to Craven Park.

He said: “I pay tribute to the Hull KR fans, I thought they were fantastic.

“For him [Cockayne] to run out in the warm-up and then get cheered like he did when his name was read out and during the course of the game, I think that’s a real tribute to all the people over that far side and it’s testament to Benny.

“I think the Wakefield fans probably think the same about him. He’s a player who’s polarised opinion, he’s made some real poor errors off the field a couple of times in his career but for the bulk of it he’s been a very wholehearted good club man and that’s what we’ve got at the moment.”

Wildcats are still a point off the top-eight with two games to go thanks to Bradford Bull’s victory over Huddersfield Giants.

Wakefield face Widnes Vikings at the Rapid Solicitors Stadium in their next match before bringing their regular season to a close at Salford City Reds.

Agar says his men will do all they can to leapfrog the Bulls but admits the last play-off spot is Bradford’s to throw away.

“It’s still not in our hands, all we can do is try and win our last two games,” he acknowledged.

“We saw last night that Widnes have certainly not given up the ghost and got some performances in them and I think Bradford play Hull next - are Hull going to respond or are they going to turn in what they turned in against Widnes last night? Who knows?

“All we can do is control what we can control and if we win our last two games and don’t make the play-offs it’ll be an outstanding effort trying.”

See this week’s Wakefield Express for all the latest Wakefield Trinity Wildcats news.