Wakefield Trinity Wildcats boss Richard Agar paid tribute to Ali Lauitiiti after the thrilling 36-32 Super League victory over rivals Castleford Tigers.
The big second-rower sparked Wildcats’ fight-back from 32-28 down going into the final stages of Sunday’s derby at the Rapid Solicitors Stadium.
Lauitiiti powered over to tie the scores with eight minutes remaining and, with Tigers pushing for the winner in the dying seconds, produced a crucial intervention and superb pass to send Liam Kay over for his hat-trick and match-winning try as the hooter sounded.
Agar said: “I am pleased for us because there are a number of games this season when we have gone down late in similar circumstances.
“I would have had no complaints had the result gone the other way.
“I felt we created enough chances to win two or three games but didn’t put them away.
“The errors crept in during the second half and they have been difficult to shake off in the last quarter of the season and we thought that was going to come back to haunt us.
I felt for long periods that we were the team playing on the front foot and making the line breaks.
“Again defensively we got scored on a couple of free shots on first play and let a couple of soft ones in, which again has been a bit of a story for us but it was a good way to finish and the kid [Kay] took his tries exceptionally well.”
Agar added: “I must admit that I thought there was a point when they went in front where energy was going to get the better of us and I didn’t know if we would get to get too many more chances.
“I pay tribute to Ali [Lauitiiti]. In tight situations like that where your structure has gone a bit, you want the ball in the hands of players you know can produce something and I thought he produced a great try and a couple of great pieces of play for tries earlier in the game.
“I thought it was quite apt that Ali picked up the ball from [Rangi] Chase.
“I saw Rangi lined up for the drop goal and I thought this is probably scripted that Rangi knocks it over and goes out with a bang for Cas but I am pleased that Ali made the play and Liam finished it terrifically well.”
Click on the video link to see Wakefield Wildcats’ fans and players celebrating the derby success.
Read Friday’s Wakefield Express for more reaction from the big game.