Wakefield Trinity Wildcats head coach James Webster admitted his team have an outside chance of making the play-offs after they made it four games unbeaten under his control with a 16-14 victory over Leeds Rhinos.
The Wildcats were left facing a relegation scrap only a month ago but three wins and a draw since Webster took over have seen the men from Belle Vue rise to within four points of eighth-placed Widnes Vikings.
The latest win came right at the death as Richard Owen slid over in the corner to send the Wildcats faithful wild and deny Leeds the chance to move back to the top of the First Utility Super League.
Wakefield meet Widnes next at the Rapid Solicitors Stadium on Thursday and Webster believes the Wildcats must win that to stand a chance of completing an incredible turnaround.
“I’ve got a group of players in there that are busting their backsides off to try and improve,” he said.
“When you’ve got a group of people committed to the cause the way they are, you don’t start thinking about teams catching you, you start thinking about catching other sides.
“It’s a big step next Thursday. Widnes are in eighth spot and we would need to beat them.
“We have eight games left and we would have to win five, minimum. We are going to have to win some games away.
“It’s going to be tough. We might have given them (the sides above) too much of a start but should we beat Widnes it’s obtainable.”
Both Wakefield and Leeds went into the contest with a number of key personnel missing and they were closely matched throughout.
A Kallum Watkins try and a brilliant solo effort from Ben Jones-Bishop cancelled out Danny Washbrook’s score to give the Rhinos a half-time lead.
Richard Mathers edged the Wildcats back in front but it needed Owen’s late intervention to win it for the hosts after Ryan Hall appeared to have given the Rhinos the two points.
Leeds head coach Brian McDermott had no complaints with the result and although he praised his team’s effort, he was critical of their toughness and decision-making in defence.
He said: “Parts of our defence weren’t switched on enough. They made too many yards up the middle which allowed them field position.
“We talked about Tim Smith, what a play that was at the back end, but we talked about that play and the play they scored the previous try from so that’s disappointing.
“At the same time I thought we gave that everything and put our guts into it. You win some of those and some you don’t.”
Rhinos captain Kevin Sinfield missed out for the second week in a row due to a back injury and was among a host of players out, but McDermott refused to use that as an excuse.
“I thought we played well enough to win and the blokes out there got us in front, so it’s fair to assume we had a good enough team to win,” he added.
“But we didn’t and credit to Wakefield for that. They played well and enthusiastically.”