Wakefield Trinity 28 Warrington Wolves 22: Interim-boss Willie Poching makes winning start in Super League thriller
The new era at Wakefield Trinity got off to a dramatic start as Willie Poching’s men stunned Warrington Wolves 28-22 in his first game as interim-coach.
A week earlier, Trinity had collapsed to a 22-18 defeat - their fifth in succession - at Huddersfield Giants after leading 18-0 inside 15 minutes.
That cost previous boss Chris Chester his job, with Poching stepping up from the assistant’s role to take - for the time being - temporary charge.
For three-quarters of his coaching debut, Trinity looked like the team who had started against Giants.
They played with flair, adventure and confidence and when Lee Kershaw scored a superb interception try and man of the match Mason Lino kicked his fifth goal to make it 26-6 with 18 minutes left, Trinity looked to be home and dry.
But then the old frailties which let Chester down suddenly resurfaced. Warrington came alive to score three tries in five minutes and Trinity were left desperately hanging on to a four-point advantage.
They almost lost that, but Yusuf Aydin and Matty Ashurst managed to pull down Stefan Ratchford just short of the line when he looked certain to score and Lino landed a penalty in the final minute to maintain his 100 per cent record with the boot and secure a precious victory.
Trinity thoroughly deserved it over the 80 minutes.
For the most part, they were excellent. Shoddy Warrington failed to put them under any real pressure and the hosts scored four tries, two of them brilliant long-range efforts.
The first came from Tom Johnstone. In his second game since knee surgery, the winger showed he has lost none of his pace by racing the length of the field after George Williams’ pass had gone to ground near Trinity’s line.
Midway through the half Dave Fifita - who had just come on and looked highly-motivated - crashed over from a quick pass by Jacob Miller, who also impressed for Wakefield.
Warrington got over Trinity’s line twice in the first half, without making it count, Danny Walker being held up before Tom Lineham crossed in the corner, but that was ruled out for obstruction.
Miller was off target with a drop goal attempt in the final seconds of the half, but Wakefield were full value for their 12-0 interval lead.
Trinity’s third try was a cracker, begun by Jay Pitts.
He made a break and offloaded to Max Jowitt, the full-back got the ball away as he was about to be grounded and Lino was in support to dash between the posts.
Lino took two from a penalty with 29 minutes left after a high tackle by Blake Austin on Fifita in front of the posts, following a superb 40-20 by Miller.
Austin, bound for Leeds Rhinos next season, began the game on the bench and was introduced in the first half, playing at loose-forward, with Gareth Widdop and Williams as the halves.
Williams got over from close range in the 58th minute to give Warrington a glimmer of hope, Stefan Ratchford converting, but four minutes later Kershaw seemed to have extinguished that with as good an interception try as the old ground can ever have seen.
He snatched Ratchford’s pass, aimed for Lineham on Warrington’s left-wing, blasted into the visitors’ half, stepped Matty Ashton, who had come across as the last defender and raced through the uprights.
Then began Trinity’s collapse. Austin - at that stage playing on the right-wing - pulled an unconverted try back 13 minutes from the end, in the next set Jake Mamo finished off a long-range move and Josh Charnley did the same moments later.
Ratchford added the extras to the Mamo and Charnley tries and Warrington would have won, but for the superb effort to keep Ratchford out.
Having survived that scare, Wakefield had the final say through Lino’s late penalty.
Wakefield Trinity: Jowitt, Kershaw, Arundel, Senior, Johnstone, Miller, Lino, Arona, B Walker, Tanginoa, Pitts, Ashurst, Westerman. Subs Fifita, Kay, Battye, Aydin.
Warrington Wolves: Ratchford, Lineham, Mamo, Wrench, Charnley, Widdop, Williams, Hill, D Walker, Cooper, Currie, King, Davis. Subs Austin, Akauola, Ashton, Burgess.
Referee: Marcus Griffiths (Widnes).