A FALL at the regular season’s final hurdle cost Wakefield Trinity two places on the Betfred Super League table and some valuable extra revenue.
Trinity went into their home clash with St Helens knowing a win would secure third place ahead of the Super-8s and they could afford to lose by up to 14 points and still finish fourth.
After trailing 24-6 at the break, Trinity reduced the deficit to 10 points with 10 minutes left, but Saints’ flurry of 15 late points earned them a precious 41-16 success and left Wakefield fifth in the table, behind Salford Red Devils on for and against.
Wakefield now face four away games in the Super-8s and only three at home.
An extra fixture at Beaumont Legal Stadium, Belle Vue, could have been worth roughly £60,000 in gate receipts and other income.
It was a disappointing end to the regular campaign, but Trinity remain well in contention for the semi-finals and fifth is an impressive achievement after they were bottom two years ago and eighth in 2016.
They were second-best to an impressive Saints team who needed to win to stay in touch with the top four.
Saints went ahead after nine minutes when Danny Richardson stepped through for a well-taken solo try.
Wakefield levelled almost immediately, Matty Ashurst running a good line on to a defence-splitting pass by Liam Finn, who also converted, but Saints took a firm grip on the game before the break.
James Roby reacted quickly to touch down after Fages’ kick bounced off a post.
Tommy Makinson chipped over the defence and ran through to regather and score soon afterwards and then Regan Grace finished off some fine handling and Mark Percival landed his fourth conversion to open an 18-point gap.
Trinity were still in contention for fourth place going into the second half, but needed to score first.
They did, on 43 minutes, after James Hasson – making his debut following a move from Salford – forced Percival to knock-on and in the resulting set Scott Grix went over from close range off Dean Hadley’s off-load and Finn added the extras.
A superb tackle by Luke Thompson kept Sam Williams out from Danny Kirmond’s pass, but Saints extended their lead to 14 points with 25 minutes left through a Percival penalty after Reece Lyne pulled Zeb Taia back off the ball.
That meant Wakefield were clinging on to a place in the top-four by a single point on for and against.
They gave themselves some more breathing space on the hour when Kyle Wood, Tinirau Arona and Craig Huby worked the ball left to Finn and he delayed his pass superbly to send Mason Caton-Brown over, though the try was unconverted.
Another Percival penalty took some of the sting out of Wakefield and then Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook crashed over with 10 minutes left, Percival adding the extras.
A try would still have been enough for Wakefield, but Zeb Taia stuck the knife in with a touchdown four minutes from time, Percival maintaining his 100 per cent record with the boot and Richardson landed a one-pointer as the hooter sounded.
Wakefield Trinity: Grix, Jones-Bishop, Lyne, Tupou, Caton-Brown, Williams, Finn, Walker, Wood, Huby, Hadley, Ashurst, Arona. Subs Kirmond, Hasson, Fifita, England.
St Helens: Lomax, Makinson, Morgan, Percival, Grace, Fages, Richardson, Douglas, Roby, Thompson, Taia, Peyroux, Wilkin. Subs Walmsley, Amor, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Knowles.
Referee: James Child (Batley).