Wakefield Trinity 16 St Helens 20 - spirited Trinity give Saints a scare

Alex Walkers scores Trinity's first try. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.Alex Walkers scores Trinity's first try. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.
Alex Walkers scores Trinity's first try. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.
Bottom of the table pushed top all the way before Wakefield Trinity were pipped 20-16 by St Helens in a much tighter than expected contest at Emerald Headingley yesterday (Thursday).

Wakefield were down to their final 17 available players, because of injuries, a positive test for coronavirus and eight others having to isolate under track and trace protocols.

It was still a strong side - even if some of them weren’t fully fit - and they gave Saints a genuine fright, going 12-0 ahead midway through the first half and leading from the 10th until the 63rd minutes.

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They grew in confidence after their strong start, even back-to-back Saints tries in the final 10 minutes of the first half failed to break Wakefield’s spirit and they finished the stronger, with the final score in the dying moments

Craig Kopczak touches down to double Trinity's lead. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.Craig Kopczak touches down to double Trinity's lead. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.
Craig Kopczak touches down to double Trinity's lead. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

Trinity are still searching for their first win since rugby league resumed in August, but this showing - in total contrast to some of their previous listless displays - gives them something to build on.

It was an impressive all-round effort from Wakefield, with Max Jowitt and Ryan Hampshire combining well in the halves, Alex Walker having a good game at full-back and Matty Ashurst getting through a huge amount of work at the centre of a gutsy pack effort.

There was also a big effort from hooker Josh Wood who, along with Joe Westerman and Connor Bailey, had not been due to play.

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Saints looked like they were expecting an easy 80 minutes, began sloppily and were never allowed to get into top gear.

They failed to complete any of their first four sets and were punished after 10 minutes when Westerman’s offload found Reece Lyne, he kicked ahead and Walker ran through to touch down for a try which Hampshire converted.

Ten minutes after Walker’s try, Trinity doubled their lead as Craig Kopczak proved too big and strong for Saints defence from first-receiver close - off Hampshire’s pass - close to the line.

Trinity had two chances to go further ahead. Lyne intercepted from Jonny Lomax inside Wakefield territory, but Regan Grace ran him down; then Jack Croft dummied into space and kicked ahead, but Lomax got there before the chasers.

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The 12-point advantage lasted until eight minutes before the interval. Saints received a penalty and repeat set and Trinity finally cracked when Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook stormed past Bailey - who had been on the field for just seconds - and Adam Tangata.

Coote added the extras and then touched down straight afterwards following a one-two with Josh Simm. This time Coote’s kick hit a post and Trinity held on to lead at the break.

There was a sense the tide had turned, but - despite Saints applying most of the pressure - Trinity held strong until 17 minutes from time when Grace finished strongly from Lomax’s pass over the top. With Coote unable to land the goal, Trinity were still well in the contest at 14-12

Six minutes later James Roby and Lomax combined to create a try for Coote which he also converted.

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Trinity did all the pressing after that and Dave Fifita sent Ashurst over for a deserved, but unconverted, consolation try in the final minute.

Wakefield Trinity: A Walker, Senior, Lyne, Croft, Johnstone, Jowitt, Hampshire, Kopczak, J Wood, Tanginoa, Ashurst, Batchelor, Westerman. Subs Bailey, Battye, Fifita, Tangata.

St Helens: Coote, Makinson, Naiqama, Simm, Grace, Lomax, Fages, Walmsley, Roby, Lees, Bentley, Knowles, McCarthy-Scarsbrook. Subs Taia, Peyroux, Amor, Welsby.

Referee: Liam Moore (Wigan).

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