Wakefield Wildcats: Johnstone paints positive picture despite problems

IN-FORM WINGER Tom Johnstone admits Wakefield Trinity Wildcats are in a “frustrating” run of form at this early point in the campaign.

Wildcats have won just once in five First Utility Super League fixtures this year and paid the price for a slow start in each of their last two.

Tom Johnstone.

Tom Johnstone.

They shared the second-half scoring at Warrington Wolves after trailing 24-6 at the break and were 26-0 down before clicking into gear against Catalans Dragons two days ago.

Wildcats closed the gap to four points in the second half before eventually losing 42-28 and Johnstone, who was among last weekend’s try scorers, said: “It is pretty frustrating.

“We’re just not starting games well.

“We’ve done it a few weeks in a row now, when we’ve let a team get away from us.

“Then we fight our way back into it and we get in the arm wrestle, but then we just fall asleep for 10 minutes or make a few errors and it brings them back into the game.

“They get the momentum and we’re chasing the game again and playing frantic.

“We have shown that when it comes together and we defend well and we complete our sets, it’s there for the taking.

“Eventually it is going to come when we finally click properly, but we just need to cut out those penalties and errors.”

Wildcats are third from bottom in the table, but Johnstone insists they are improving and he reckons a top-eight push is not beyond them if they sort out areas of their game which are letting them down.

“We have definitely got better from the first game against Widnes,” he said.

“We didn’t do too well then, we made a few errors trying to link up with with each other, but the more we play together the more we are starting to click and gel and everyone’s getting to know their roles.

“I am pretty confident we can get away from the bottom of the table.

“Once we get a few wins and start improving in a few areas I still believe we can push up the table and fight into the top-eight.”

Wildcats face a difficult game on Friday night at St Helens, who have lost just once so far this season and beat on-song Castleford Tigers in round four.

But Johnstone reckons the pressure will be off the visitors and that could bring the best out of Brian Smith’s side.

“We have nothing to lose,” he said. “It is an exciting game for us, they are a massive club and a great team and it will be a really big challenge, but if we do everything right I believe we can go there, do well, push them right to the limit and maybe get the win.”

Johnstone was a shining light for Wildcats in the defeat two days ago, when coach Smith felt he came of age.

His run almost to the line after catching a short kick-off was one of the highlights of the game, but Johnstone insisted he is far from the finished article.

“I am getting there slowly,” the 20-year-old said.

“I have been doing a lot of work on my carries in training and doing a lot of extras and it is coming together slowly.

“But there’s still a lot more work to do. The boys in front are laying the platform and getting the props tired and then letting me get in and do my bit.

“Big praise to our forwards for doing that and credit for the short kick-off should go to Joe [Arundel], he put it there perfectly for me.”

Meanwhile, Wildcats’ Tinirau Arona has been charged with Grade A kicking Catalans’ Eloi Pelissier in the 38th minute of Sunday’s game. He will avoid a ban if he submits an early guilty plea.