A spirited second-half rally came to nothing for Wakefield Trinity who were beaten 25-18 by Catalans Dragons in the opening game of the Dacia Magic Weekend at Liverpool’s Anfield Stadium.
Under the pump in the first half and trailing by two converted tries at the interval, Trinity hit back to lead for a spell in the second half and it was all-square with three minutes left, before a drop goal gave Catalans the advantage and they scored again on the final play.
Dragons dominated the opening 40, but whatever coach Chris Chester said at half-time had an immediate impact and, remarkably, Trinity were ahead within seven minutes of the restart.
First, Mason Caton-Brown broke down the left, turned the ball inside to Jacob Miller and he sent Kyle Wood over.
Then Danny Kirmond finished strongly from a pass by Ryan Hampshire.
He converted both and booted a penalty from in front of the posts when Catalans were caught offside after James Batchelor had split the defence with Wood in support, but was tackled.
In the next set Caton-Brown dived over from Junior Sa’us pass. Referee Scott Mikalauskas indicated a try, but was overruled by video official Robert Hicks who spotted the ball come loose.
Catalans were back in front soon afterwards through Ben Garcia who crossed off a nice move - involving Samisoni Langi and Gigot, who converted - from a scrum 20 metres out.
The gap remained at four points until 11 minutes from time when, following a drop-out, Ben Jones-Bishop dived over at the corner from Max Jowitt’s pass after Craig Kopczak and Hampshire had handled.
There was no conversion and the deadlock was broken on 77 minutes when Gigot landed a long-range one-pointer, then Garcia nipped over from acting-half on the final play of the match and Gigot converted after the hooter.
Desperate Trinity defence kept the half-time score down to 12-0, though there was a doubt over Catalans’ second try.
Kenny Edwards’ pass to Fouad Yaha - who sent Tony Gigot in - looked forward. That came moments after Caton-Brown had been set to score only for Max Jowitt’s pass to be ruled forward.
Catalans attacked for most of the opening period and went ahead on 14 minutes when Yaha touched down from Gigot’s kick.
Gigot converted his own try and added a penalty, for interference in front of the posts, just before the interval.
That was a self-inflicted wound as Trinity had been in possession in the French side’s half, but Anthony England was penalised for shoving Sam Kasiano as he got up to play the ball.
Jowitt and Hampshire held up Yaha over the line before the first try and Sa’u and Caton-Brown.
Trinity’s in-form forward David Fifita hobbled off with eight minutes left, which was a blow ahead of next Saturday’s Coral Challenge Cup quarter-final at St Helens, though half-back Danny Brough is expected to return.