WAKEFIELD TRINITY Wildcats are in a good position, but there’s more work to be done.
That was coach Brian Smith’s assessment following his team’s 17-16 win at Leigh Centurions in the First Utility Qualifiers.
Wildcats trailed 16-6 just before half-time, but kept the Kingstone Press Championship winners scoreless in the second period.
It was their second win from three games and – if they don’t slip-up against lower division sides Halifax and Sheffield Eagles – Wildcats should at least have home advantage in the million pound match for the final place in Super League next year.
A victory over either Hull KR or Widnes Vikings could secure an automatic spot in the top division and Smith admitted Saturday’s success, against a team who beat Wildcats in the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup earlier in the year, was vital.
Smith said: “Some crazy stuff went on out there and we contributed to some of it.
“I was – and we all were – pretty disappointed with how things went in the first half, but I thought under pressure and certainly with 12 men, with a guy in the sin-bin, we did really well to maintain that slender lead and see it out.
“We have got ourselves in a good spot now, so we have got to build on it some more. We definitely need to improve on the way we played.”
Smith added: “Our guys learned a heavy lesson, I believe, from the previous encounter in the Cup, where there was some fisticuffs and stuff went on after they led by a big margin in that game.
“This time when some scuffling and garbage went on, our guys stood up for themselves, but they didn’t get engaged in anything crazy. In the end that put us where we were comfortable one-point winners – is that possible?”
Smith hailed the performance of centre Bill Tupou, who he said made “three or four unbelievably important tackles for us on the right-edge”.
He said: “Leigh were still moving the ball and trying to score and doing it well and it took every last ounce of our guys to shut it down.”
Several Wildcats players will be assessed by the club’s medical staff, including prop Nick Scruton, who suffered a cracked rib.