WAKEFIELD TRINITY’S semi-final hopes are hanging by a threat after a dramatic 19-18 defeat at rivals Hull – who are up to third – last night.
Trinity could still snatch a top-four place, but they need Castleford Tigers to do them a favour by beating Wigan on Sunday, setting up a decider against the Warriors six days later which they would need to win.
Trinity will be out of the running if Wigan win this weekend, but they could not have done much more – during the season or last night.
They did not trail until the 71st minute and were millimetres away from snatching a draw, Liam Finn’s drop goal attempt with 18 seconds left drifting wide and the miss being confirmed by video referee Ben Thaler.
Trinity had led 10-0 after 20 minutes and 12-6 at the break, but were left to regret a series of missed chances.
They scored first on 11 minutes when Finn kicked to the corner and Ben Jones-Bishop knocked the ball back to Joe Arundel who twisted over for an unconverted try against his former club.
Another Finn kick produced Trinity’s second try, after 20. Jones-Bishop’s break turned defence into attack and at the end of the set Finn grubbered between the posts.
It looked like the kick was rolling out, but Jacob Miller chased a seemingly lost cause and touched down just before the dead ball line.
Both touchdowns were confirmed by video referee Ben Thaler and Finn improved the second of them to make it 10-0. The game’s first penalty did not come until the 25th minute and it led – eventually, following a scrum near Trinity’s line – to Hull’s opening try.
Danny Washbrook was held up over the line and then Danny Kirmond made a superb tackle to keep Gareth Ellis out, but Marc Sneyd kicked to the corner and Mahe Fonua rose above Mason Caton-Brown to make a fine catch and touch down through the same opponent’s attempted tackle. Sneyd converted via a post Wakefield were close to a third try five minutes before the interval, from their first penalty. Big David Fifita stormed over from 20 metres out, but could not get the ball down and was driven into touch in goal by Fonua and Jamie Shaul.
Three minutes later Jordan Thompson knocked on near Trinity’ line and Caton-Brown picked up with a clear run to the other end, only for referee Phil Bentham to call a scrum.
Bill Tupou made a break from that, with Miller in support. Shaul made the tackle, but delayed the play-the-ball and was sin-binned. Finn took the two.
Arundel had a chance at the start of the second half after combining with Jones-Bishop from deep in Trinity territory, but Trinity had to settle for just two points in Shaul’s absence as Hull levelled within seconds of his return, though Marc Sneyd’s try and conversion.
Sneyd took Albert Kelly’s pass, shrugged off Finn, evaded Scott Grix and managed to get the ball down despite Caton-Brown’s last-gasp attempt to hold him up.
On 57 minutes Danny Washbrook touched down for Hull and Bentham indicated a try, but Thaler ruled it out for an obstruction in the build-up.
Sneyd missed with a penalty after a foul by Tinirau Arona on Kelly, but Gareth Ellis – in his final game at KCOM Stadium – went over from Danny Houghton’s pass.
Sneyd converted and landed a drop goal, but Trinity set up a tense finish when Caton-Brown crossed with three minutes left and Finn improved off the touchline.
Finn had a drop goal attempt charged down and then saw his second attempt – from in front about 15 metres out, go just to the left of the uprights.
Trinity coach Chris Chester said: “We gave it our best shot, but unfortunately we just got beat on the bell. It is a cruel game, but we will learn from this experience and will be stronger next year.
“From one to seventeen we played very well and I could not be any prouder of them.”
Hull: Shaul, Fonua, Griffin, Tuimavave, Michaels, Kelly, Sneyd, Taylor, Houghton, Watts, Minichiello, Washbrook, Ellis. Subs Connor, Thompson, Bowden. Fash.
Wakefield Trinity: Grix, Jones-Bishop, Arundel, Tupou, Caton-Brown, Miller, Finn, England, Randell, Huby, Ashurst, Kirmond, Arona. Subs Wood, Fifita, Annakin, Hasson.
Referee: Phil Bentham (Warrington).