Wakefield Trinity Wildcats ended a run of four straight defeats with one of their most comfortable victories of the season as they saw off Salford City Reds 46-10 on Monday night.
Wildcats ran in eight tries to cruise to victory on their first visit to the Salford City Stadium to keep their Super League play-off hopes alive.
After an error-strewn opening which saw Salford take the lead through Danny Williams, Wildcats hit back with five tries to take a big 30-4 lead into the interval - and they did not look back.
Wakefield were boosted by the return of halves pairing Paul Sykes and Tim Smith, while Paul Aiton was also given the green light to return at hooker. Ali Lauitiiti made the bench alongside Frankie Mariano, who was recalled from his loan spell at Featherstone Rovers. Full-back Richard Mathers made his 250th career appearance.
The game began in sloppy fashion with Wildcats skipper Danny Kirmond spilling the ball from kick-off and two more knock-ons swiftly following as neither side managed to settle in a sluggish opening ten minutes.
Reds made up for their error-strewn start, however, with a slick passing move that put winger Williams through in the corner for the opening points of the match. Gaskell could not convert from out wide.
Wildcats gradually worked their way back into the contest and when Ryan McGoldrick’s high tackle on Kirmond was penalised after 17 minutes, Wakefield made their dangerous position count when Aiton marked his return wit a try. Lee Smith continued kicking duties despite the return of Sykes and obliged with the conversion to fire the visitors ahead.
It got better for Agar’s men five minutes later when Tim Smith’s bullet pass went straight into the arms of Kirmond, who cruised over to extend Wakefield’s lead before more poor Reds defence allowed Dean Collis a comfortable try. Smith converted both to give Wildcats a 14-point cushion.
Wakefield were visibly growing in confidence, in defence and attack, and they added a couple more tries before the break to leave Salford with a mountain to climb in the second half.
A superb reverse grubber kick from Tim Smith allowed Mathers a try on his milestone appearance five minutes before the break and three minutes later Kyle Amor’s off-load allowed the Wildcats full-back to break free and feed Sykes for his 100th career try. Smith kicked both to see Wildcats in control at 30-4 up at the interval.
Reds coach Brian Noble cannot have been a happy man at half-time and tempers flared at the start of the second half when Danny Washbrook and Jacob Emmitt exchanged punches, with Salford seemingly growing frustrated at being unable to breakthrough their visitors’ stern defence.
Indiscipline from the hosts played a part in Wakefield’s next try nine minutes after the restart. A penalty for a high tackle on Mathers gave Wildcats good position and from the next set Wilkes crashed over from close range for his second try of the season. Smith maintained his perfect kicking in front of the sticks.
Wakefield had tightened up at the back and looked threatening in attack but a piece of sloppy play from Mathers allowed Salford a reply when Jodie Broughton intercepted a loose pass to run the length of the pitch to grab a consolation try. Gaskell converted.
But Wildcats finished on top when wingers Cockayne and Fox added tries to cap off a fine night for Agar’s men.
Reds: Gaskell, Williams, Gleeson, Gibson, Broughton, McGoldrick, Fages, Griffin, Foran, McPherson, Ashurst, Dixon, Wild. Subs: Walne, Mauro, Emmitt, Godwin.
Wildcats: Mathers, Fox, Collis, L Smith, Cockayne, Sykes, T Smith, Poore, Aiton, Wilkes, Walshaw, Kirmond, Washbrook. Subs: Lauitiiti, Amor, Mariano, Wildie.
Referee: Robert Hicks.