IN-FORM WAKEFIELD Trinity Wildcats half-back Jacob Miller scored four tries, but finished on the losing team against Warrington Wolves yesterday.
Wildcats were crushed 80-0 at Warrington in April, but continued their improvement under Brian Smith with a spirited display.
Miller was the star man, scoring two close-range tries and adding a couple of outstanding individual efforts.
Unfortunately, his goal kicking could not match his feats with the ball and he managed just one of three conversion attempts.
The No 6 scored all but two of Wildcats’ points in yesterday’s 40-20 loss, Craig Hall taking over the kicking to convert Miller’s final touchdown.
Hall was recalled at stand-off for his first game under Smith as the coach continued to look at various options ahead of the Qualifiers, which begin next month.
Miller’s first and third tries were short-range efforts from acting-half. But for his first he displayed pace and footwork from 20 metres out and the last came when he broke the line, kicked ahead and dabbed the ball down.
Wildcats never looked like winning, but it was a huge improvement from the 80-0 away loss to Warrington in April.
Smith – coaching against his younger brother Tony for the first time – felt his team were competitive for the most part, but let themselves down with handling errors and some defensive mistakes.
“I thought we progressed and regressed a bit,” Smith said.
“We committed some woeful errors in attack and two of our most experienced players, Kevin Locke and Jordan Tansey, came up with errors they would not normally make.
“They are inexcusable really and gave 12 points away early on. But we made defensive errors at some stages as well and that was across the board.
“I feel encouraged by much of what went on, but certainly not enough to trouble Warrington on the scoreboard.”
Warrington took the lead when Chris Hill found a gap and Stefan Ratchford was in support to cross, with Gareth O’Brien landing the first of six conversions.
Then Tansey fielded a kick near his own line, spilled the ball looking to offload and Joe Philbin reacted quickly to touch down.
Miller’s first try cut the gap to 12-6, but poor defence allowed Matty Russell to force his way over from an offload by Ben Westwood, who crossed himself after Ryan Atkins stole the ball from Locke.
Miller scored either side of the break, but 22-14 was as close as Wildcats got.
Daryl Clark’s try gave Warrington some breathing space on 56 and in the next set Richie Myler finished off from Brad Dwyer’s break.
Miller’s fourth came with 12 minutes left, but Warrington had the final say when Russell scored his second with a couple of minutes to go.
Smith felt Wakefield produced some “really good defence” and “powerhouse running”, and he added: “When we got back to (eight) points behind I thought it was on, but it was Warrington who managed to kick clear. They were very strong defensively and I think we did reasonably well in the end to reduce them to some errors in the second half and put a bit more back on their plate.
“It was not nearly enough to win the game, but we asked some questions of them.”
Wakefield Wildcats: Locke, Tansey, Arundel, Lyne, Riley, Hall, Miller, Scruton, McShane, Kavanagh, Ashurst, Washbrook, Annakin. Subs: Anderson, Ryan. Sio, Walker.
Warrington Wolves: Russell, Ormsby, Wheeler, Atkins, Penny, O’Brien, Myler, Hill, Clark, Harrison, Westwood, Philbin, Ratchford. Subs: Dwyer, Asotasi, King, Wilde.
Referee: Phil Bentham (Warrington).