Wakefield Wildcats 32 Salford Red Devils 18: Chester masterminds Wildcats’ nine-day wonder

NEW COACH Chris Chester has had an instant impact at Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.

Though he was appointed before the defeat at Hull, he officially took charge in the week leading up to Wildcats’ Good Friday clash with Huddersfield Giants.

Wakefield Wildcats' hat-trick hero Tom Johnstone celebrates with team-mates. PIC: Scott Merrylees

Wakefield Wildcats' hat-trick hero Tom Johnstone celebrates with team-mates. PIC: Scott Merrylees

Wakefield won that one, beat Leeds Rhinos three days later and completed an Easter cleansweep with a hugely impressive 32-18 defeat of Salford Red Devils.

So in the space of nine days Wildcats, playing with new freedom, enthusiasm and belief, equalled their win tally from the whole of last year’s weekly rounds.

In-form Tom Johnstone scored an outstanding hat-trick and Max Jowitt shone at full-back, providing the final pass for two of the winger’s touchdowns.

But one moment on defence summed up Wildcats’ new attitude under Chester.

Michael Dobson looked a certain scorer when he backed up a break by Ben Murdoch-Masila. The half-back had a clear run to the line, but prop Nick Scruton chased what seemed to be a lost cause and pulled off an incredible try-saving tackle.

Salford threw a huge amount of pressure at Wildcats in the second half, but managed only one try, when Justin Carney rampaged over and Dobson converted.

That cut Wakefield’s lead to four points. The home team’s defence was excellent – Niall Evalds was held up over the line by Ben Jones-Bishop, Liam Finn and Danny Kirmond and the latter nailed Carney.

With six minutes left Junior Sa’u went for the line, but was denied by Jones-Bishop’s last-gasp effort.

Wakefield surged up-field in the resulting set and Reece Lyne dummied over to seal a precious win.

Then Johnstone completed his hat-trick after being set up by a wonderful pass from Jowitt, who had done the same at the start of the second half.

Wakefield led 12-0 after only seven minutes through tries by Jacob Miller, who dummied over from Finn’s pass, and Mikey Sio, following Kirmond’s break.

Finn boosted the first two of his four conversions, but Salford were level late in the half after tries by Gareth O’Brien – who converted both – and Matt Sarsfield

But Wakefield went in for the break leading after Johnstone collected Miller’s pin-point cross kick brilliantly.

Wakefield Trinity Wildcats: Jowitt, Jones-Bishop, Arundel, Lyne, Johnstone, Miller, Finn, Scruton, Moore, England, Kirmond, Ashurst, Sio. Subs Walton, Arona, Simon, Molloy.

Salford Red Devils: O’Brien, Carney, Sa’u, Jones, J Griffin, Wood, Dobson, Forster, Tomkins, G Griffin, Murdoch-Masila, Sarsfield, Flanagan. Subs Evalds. A Walne, J Walne, Krasniqi.

Referee: Joe Cobb (Leigh).

Attendance: 4,048.