Cockayne: Wildcats must improve to stand chance of Leeds Rhinos play-off glory

CENTURY: Ben Cockayne scored his 100th career try against Salford on Saturday
CENTURY: Ben Cockayne scored his 100th career try against Salford on Saturday
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WINGER Ben Cockayne says Wakefield Wildcats must improve on their performance against Salford City Reds if they’re to stand any chance of beating Leeds Rhinos in the Super League play-offs.

Wildcats beat Salford 42-34 at the Leigh Sports Village on Saturday night to go into the play-offs in style with a club record seven straight Super League victories.

The 29-year-old was pleased to “get the job done” but was disappointed at Wakefield’s performance, especially in a second half that the ‘hosts’ won.

“If we turn out like that next week we’ll probably get smashed by Leeds,” he admitted.

“Some of the stuff was brilliant. In the first 20 minutes it was a great arm wrestle which is what we needed going into the play-offs, we needed that kind of game. But there were just too many lapses where we let some soft tries in and if we come up with that next week in the play-offs then we’re going to get punished.

“Leeds are a different animal when it comes to play-offs so if we toss some of those lapses up like we have done today we’ll get absolutely smashed, we’ve got to be at our very best next week.

“We’ve got no superstars in our team that can win a game, except there’s obviously Tim Smith who’s been setting all our tries up, but we’re just a team and we’ve got to come together as that team next week and we’ve got to be at 100 per cent.

“We’ll go back and do a video on Monday probably and no doubt Rich [Agar] will point us in the right direction where we’ve been going wrong but I think we know that, I think we know what we got wrong and what we need to tidy up next week.”

It was a good end to the regular season on a personal note for Cockayne, who arrived at Wakefield this season following a short spell at Featherstone Rovers.

His try not only made sure he topped the Wakefield try-scoring list with 15, one ahead of fellow winger Peter Fox, but it was also his 100th senior team score.

“It was nice to get that,” he said.

“I was hoping to get it last week [against Widnes] but I sort of got a bit itchy feet today thinking about it. It was nice to get over for it and I think I’ve just pipped Foxy for our top try-scorer by one so we’ll have a bit of banter about that.”

Attentions now turn to the Rhinos on Saturday (kick-off 8pm) and a fourth match of the season for Wakefield against the Headingley Carnegie club.

Wildcats came out on top last time out with a 38-18 win at the Rapid Solicitors Stadium and they pushed the champions all the way in the reverse fixture, just being pipped 44-40.

Wakefield also pushed Leeds all the way in the Challenge Cup before the Rhinos pulled away in the second half to progress with a 38-18 win.

The trio of matches show Wakefield can cause their West Yorkshire rivals all kinds of problems and that, coupled with Wildcats’ seven-match winning run, will put Cockayne and company in confident mood for the weekend.

“On the back of us seven wins we’re going to be confident anyway,” he said. “And with the performances we’ve put in this year we know we can do a good job on them.”

lCockayne will be holding a free fitness session open to all at Sharlston Rovers ARLFC, on Weeland Road, Sharlston, on Wednesday from 6.30pm.

People of all abilities aged over 16 are welcome to attend and Cockayne’s Wakefield team-mates Danny Kirmond, Kyle Wood and Russ Spiers will also be attending.

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