WAKEFIELD TRINITY showed two outstanding sides to their character as they broke their five-match losing run with a stunning 24-20 win over Betfred Super League leaders St Helens.
Trinity scored four tries in a brilliant attacking spell in the first half and then defended for their lives as Saints threatened a remarkable comeback. After letting a half-time lead slip in four of their five defeats, Trinity must have feared the worst when Saints cut the gap to only two with 33 minutes left, but a resilient performance and some desperate last-ditch tackling secured a famous and deserved win.
Saints went ahead inside two minutes, but Trinity roared back to lead 22-6 after 23.
Three Saints tries left the game on a knife edge, but a late penalty goal from Liam Finn – playing with a broken finger – was the only scoring in the final half an hour. It seemesd ominous when Saints scored in the first set of the game, Mark Percival crossing from Ben Barba’s pass and Danny Richardson converting from wide out.
But then successive penalties carried Trinity upfield and Ben Jones-Bishop got on the end of quick passing by Scott Grix and Finn to dive over at the corner.
Finn’s touchline conversion levelled the scores after six minutes and Trinity were ahead seven later.
Matt Smith made a break and knocked on, Jones-Bishop kicked ahead on the free play and was taken out by Zeb Taia and from the penalty Finn and Miller combined to create the opening for Reece Lyne.
The third try was special. Bill Tupou’s tackle to win possession began it, and then a lovely dummy and some nice footwork took Justin Horo past the final defender for a superb touchdown, from Tyler Randell’s pass.
Finn’s third goal made it 18-6 midway through the first half and Trinity were farther in front of 23 minutes when Tupou scooped up a loose ball and powered over through some weak tackling.
There was no goal and Saints struck straight back as Trinity were caught offside after failing to deal with the restart and Tommy Makinson dived over for an unconverted try from Ryan Morgan’s pass. That was six tries in 26 minutes, but the game then became scrappy and the scoring dried up until 16 seconds before the break when Percival went over for an unconverted try from Barba’s pass.
Six minutes after half-time Richardson booted a 40-20 and Luke Douglas crashed on to Theo Fages’ pass to go over for a try which Richardson improved.
That cut Trinity’s lead to just two points, but they missed a golden opportunity just before the hour when the outstanding Tupou sent Horo storming clear with Matty Ashurst in support on his inside, but he opted to go for the line himself and was tackled by Morgan.
With nine minutes left Tupou snatched the ball from Morgan to prevent a Saints try and broke 60 metres upfield.
He didn’t have the legs to go all the way, but a high shot by Luke Thompson on Keegan Hirst allowed Finn to extend the lead to four points.
Saints almost snatched it two minutes later when Barba broke clear and passed to Jonny Lomax, who was brought down by a high tackle from Tyler Randell. The hooker was sin-binned, but Percival followed him – for foul language to a touch judge – soon afterwards and Wakefield deservedly held on.
Wakefield Trinity: Grix, Jones-Bishop, Lyne, Arundel, Tupou, Miller, Finn, Huby, Randell, Hirst, Ashurst, Kirmond, Horo. Subs Wood, England, Bon.
St Helens: Barba, Makinson, Morgan, Percival, Grace, Lomax, Richardson, Amor, Smith, Thompson, Peyroux, Taia, Wilkin. Subs Fages, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Douglas, Knowles.
Referee: Gareth Hewer (Whitehaven).