WAKEFIELD TRINITY coach Chris Chester hailed his “lion-hearted players” after they gave St Helens a fright in a thriller at Emerald Headingley.
Trinity had only 17 players available for the game and had to revise their squad after one tested positive for coronavirus and another eight were forced to isolate.
But Chester’s side pushed the champions and Betfred Super League leaders all the way, going 12-0 ahead midway through the first half and hanging on to a two-point advantage until 17 minutes from the end.
Even after Saints had opened a 20-12 advantage, Trinity refused to throw in the towel and pulled a try back in the final seconds, though it was too late to affect the result.
Trinity have not won since rugby league resumed in August, but Chester described their latest performance as “certainly a step in the right direction”.
He said: “There was a lot of character from the players, we just need a bit of luck.
“There were some good individual performances and collectively we stuck at it when it got tough.”
Wakefield were 12-10 in front at half-time and Chester added: “In the first 40 I thought we were the better side, we forced them into some uncharacteristic errors and defended really tough.
“The difference was they were a bit more clinical in the second half, but effort-wise - after everything these guys have had to go through - it was great.”
Chester felt Saints’ two tries just before the interval were crucial.
“That took some wind out of our sails,” admitted the coach whose side face Saints again in a rematch at Warrington on Thursday.
“Even when we went eight points down, we felt we could pull something back. There was very little between the sides. There was a big gulf in quality on the field, but my guys had hearts of lions and came so close to toppling them.”
Wakefield scored three tries, but Chester was happiest with their defensive effort under heavy pressure.
“We stood up defensively and that’s the pleasing part,” he said.
“In past games after 20-30 minutes we’ve fallen off a cliff, but tonight we stuck at it, worked hard and unfortunatley the result just got away from us.”
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