Wakefield Wildcats stay in hunt for play-offs

Andy Raleigh: Rare try.
Andy Raleigh: Rare try.

Wakefield Trinity Wildcats kept their chances of reaching the Super league play-offs alive as they eased to a 42-6 victory over big spending Salford Red Devils at the Rapid Solicitors stadium.

The victory leaves the Wildcats just four points adrift of Widnes Vikings in eighth position with two games remaining in the Super League season, although the Vikings also have a superior points difference.

Salford looked to have the momentum going into the fixture as Wakefield’s captain Danny Kirmond failed a late fitness test suffered in training, but any fears of a lacklustre performance were soon put to rest as the hosts managed as many as three tries in the opening 20 minutes to take the initiative.

Prop Andy Raleigh opened the scoring with his first try in over 12 months, after loose forward Danny Washbrook broke clear before offloading the ball.

Washbrook’s hard work in the opening move paid dividends soon after as he collected a grubber kick from Australian scrum half Tim Smith - who is on loan to the Wildcats from Salford - to give Wakefield a 10-point lead after 14 minutes.

Winger Chris Riley added a third try when collecting Paul McShane’s kick into the corner, before Paul Sykes converted the goal kick - his second of the game.

It seemed that falling 16 points behind proved a turning point for the Red Devils, as they finally began to exert some attacking pressure on the Wakefield defence. Winger Nial Evalds had embarked on a dangerous run forward in the opening stages of the game, but Salford’s major chance came when hooker Logan Tomkins was held up by the Wildcats backline just inches away from going over.

Wakefield began the second half in similar fashion to the first by creating the opening chance, as forward Taulima Tautai played Sykes into a hole, although a forward pass pulled the Wildcats back. Salford made sure to take full advantage of this error however, as Tony Puletoa charged the ball downfield before hooker Harrison Hanson forced his way over the line from 50 metres for the Red Devils’ only try of the game.

The try was far from a turning point for Salford, however, as centre Dean Collins went over on 55 minutes to reward a decision to run a penalty from in front the posts.

Sykes missed the kick on this occasion, but he was allowed to atone for his error just three minutes later as Ali Lauitiiti powered his way over the line following a pass from McShane 10 metres from the line.

The back-to-back tries proved a sign of things to come as Wakefield began an onslaught on the Salford defence as the game reached its latter stages. Collis produced a superb flick to enable winger Richard Owen to touch the ball down and Godinet was rewarded for his industry when he grasped hold of McShane’s grubber kick soon after.

A Sykes kick then set up the position for Owen to round off the scoring with his second try a minute from time, leaving the Wildcats with hope yet as they look to force their way into the play-off positions.