Wakefield Trinity answer critics with gritty victory over Warrington Wolves
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After 61 tryless minutes, Trinity looked to be heading for a second successive defeat when Stafan Ratchford crossed and added the conversion to give Warrington an 8-6 lead.
On a heavy pitch points were hard to come by, but Wakefield had defended solidly and taken the two from three penalty kicks to keep themselves in the game and a strong finish stole it.
First, Matty Ashurst somehow got the ball down from close to the line with nine minutes left; then Jake Mamo’s lose pass was pounced on by speedster Tom Johnstone who scorched in from half-way.
It was an excellent response to a drubbing at Hull KR in Super League round one and Chris Chester was a proud man afterwards.
“I thought we were really good value,” said the Trinity coach.
“I thought we showed some real Wakefield grit, especially when we went behind 8-6.
“We found a way to win. There were some good individual performances and as a group it is probably one of the best wins I’ve been involved in.”
For three quarters of the game it looked like Belle Vue would witness Super League’s first tryless contest since 2007 and only the second in the competition’s history.
The visitors had gone ahead for the first time in the 38th minute when Max Jowitt booted a goal line drop out into touch on the full and Ratchford took the two points.
That was the only scoring of the opening 40 minutes as the sides were dragged into a scrappy arm wrestle marred by a steady flow of errors.
Wakefield did get across Warrington’s line once, when – after the hard-working Joe Westerman had gone close – Josh Wood darted through from acting-half, but the in-goal judge spotted a knock-on.
Bill Tupou also went close before losing possession and at the other end England half-back Gareth Widdop – the Yorkshireman making his Super League debut following his return from Australia – kept full-back Jowitt on his toes and forced a series of drop-outs.
Trinity’s defence was strong throughout and Tupou made a fine one-on-one tackle to keep Toby King out, while Jay Pitts, who was outstanding in Wakefield’s pack, forced Daryl Clark into a fumble in good field position.
Ryan Hampshire’s place kicking was crucial for Trinity. He equalised with a penalty three minutes into the second period and booted them ahead six minutes later in similar style.
In between those, Josh Wood again went close, but was held up.
Widdop butchered a chance to put Warrington – who had beaten champions St Helens 19-0 in their previous game – in front when he spilled Mamo’s pass before a third Hampshire penalty goal made it 6-2.
However, Trinity lost possession from the restart and conceded back-to-back penalties which Warrington punished when Ben Currie sent Ratchford over, the full-back also converting.
Wakefield could have collapsed, but showed tremendous spirit to pull the game from the fire, Hampshire converting both their tries to maintain a 100 per cent record with the boot.
Chester added: “There’s been a lot said about us as a group and a club over the last two weeks.
“We were all disappointed with the result against Hull KR, but I think we have quietened a few people with that victory.
“It was massive for us. I am really pleased for the players and really proud of everybody’s effort,” he added,
Wakefield Trinity: Jowitt, Tupou, Lyne, Arundel, Johnsstone, Miller, Hampshire, Kopczak, K Wood, Tanginoa, Pitts, Ashurst, Westerman. Substitutes: J Wood, Tangata, Batchelor, Navarrete.
Warrington Wolves: Ratchford, Lineham, King, Mamo, Charnley, Austin, Widdop, Cooper, D Clark, Philbin, Currie, Murdoch-Masila, J Clark. Substitutes: Akauola, Davis, Walker, Burrell.
Referee: M Griffiths (Widnes).