Hull KR 18 Wakefield Trinity 25: ‘Kelepi Tanginoa was a man-mountain’ hails proud Willie Poching
Willie Poching is certainly doing a decent job of turning Wakefield Trinity around.
The interim head coach last night secured a second win in three games since taking over from the sacked Chris Chester.
There are plenty of people in the hunt for the role for 2022 but the Wakefield assistant’s CV is looking increasingly impressive.
Poching watched as his side – trailing 10-0 early on but then inspired by Kelepi Tanginoa – fought back to produce a spirited success against Hull KR, the club he left last year.
The visitors had also lost Joe Arundel in the warm-up meaning James Batchelor played as a makeshift centre and 18th man Yusuf Aydin came in on the bench.
Trinity looked like they could be blown away when Rovers – looking to bounce back from Saturday’s derby defeat at Hull FC – started strongly with tries from Luis Johnson and George Lawler.
Nevertheless, Trinity suddenly sprung to life to record an excellent success.
Poching said: “I’m immensely proud just because we had a little bit to face in the lead-up to the game with what happened just before kick-off.
“It didn’t faze them. It was the ‘next man up’ mentality. And some of that continued into the game particularly when 10-0 down. The momentum was against us but we wrestled it back and had the discipline to stick to the play.
“There was some great work from our leaders Joe Westerman and Jacob Miller. They were enormous for us how they got us around.
“And Kelepi Tanginoa was a man-mountain with some of the carries and the threat he gave us especially at a time when the game seemed to be flowing away.”
As is so often the case, Tanginoa was the inspiration, the powerful forward running over the top of Johnson to break clear from halfway and send Miller easily over.
Kyle Wood had darted out of dummy half with his first touch to make space for Tanginoa and he, too, was influential as Wakefield grew into the contest.
The West Yorkshire club eventually took the lead two minutes before the break.
Tanginoa had run another brilliant line off Miller to go close and, though Ben Crooks denied him a try, Ryan Hampshire did score at the end of the set after latching on to Mason Lino’s perfectly-executed grubber towards the posts.
Full-back Hampshire was playing his 150th career game with Max Jowitt injured and he saw Mason Lino add a second conversion.
Tanginoa should have helped the visitors secure a third try at the start of the second period after Miller this time sent him racing clear.
However, the big Australian ignored Innes Senior and England winger Tom Johnstone outside him to try and beat Crooks and he was easily brought down.
Similarly, another chance went begging when David Fifita - also impressive last night - eventually rumbled through and seemed destined for the line but tried passing to Senior who was denied by Jimmy Keinhorst and brought back for a forward pass regardless.
Instead, relieved Rovers levelled with Crooks’s 48th minute penalty but parity did not last long. Once more, the hosts - who had become increasingly erratic, imploded, Brad Takairangi’s grounded pass in Wakefield’s 20 being instantly turned into a try at the other end in the 52nd minute.
Johnstone picked up initially and then found Senior who sprinted in untouched from 50m for Lino to improve.
Then, just three minutes later, Lino picked out a simple pass for former Hull FC back-row Jay Pitts to sail over for their fourth converted try of the night.
Lino was on hand to produce a try-saving tackle on Mikey Lewis as Tony Smith’s side tried mustering something.
Crooks got them within touching distance, going over for his fifth match in succession against Trinity. He converted to leave his side 24-18 behind but, as hard as they tried, they lacked the finesse to get back.
Instead, Miller rounded things off with a drop goal in the final seconds when KR loose forward Dean Hadley was being treated for a recurring shoulder injury that could end his season.
Rovers were missing Rowan Milnes, Korbin Sims and Matty Storton from Saturday and they will now have a battle on to make the top-six having dropped to seventh.
Smith said: “I just thought they out-enthused us tonight.
“It wasn’t for lack of effort or trying. When we went up 10-0 I still felt even at that time that they were a bit sharper than us.
“It’s good that we showed some spirit to fight back. Unfortunately we let the game get out of our own control through a few errors.
“Even in that first period where we were scoring points I just saw some signs in us where we were not as sharp as we normally are,” he added.
Hull KR: Crooks; Keinhorst, Minikin, Kenny-Dowall, Hall; Takairangi, Lewis; Vete, Parcell, King, Linnett, Johnson, Hadley. Substitutes: Litten, Lawler, Mustapha, Maher.
Wakefield Trinity: Hampshire; Kershaw, Batchelor, Senior, Johnstone; Miller, Lino; Tanginoa, Kay, Westerman, Pitts, Ashurst, Crowther. Substitutes: Fifita, K Wood, Battye, Aydin.
Referee: Marcus Griffiths (Widnes)