WAKEFIELD TRINITY will go into Friday’s derby at Leeds Rhinos in high spirits after a remarkable 24-22 win over Salford Red Devils in a real Super League rollercoaster.
It was Trinity’s second successive win and their first at home since May 22 last year when they beat Catalans Dragons.
A slow-burner of a game built from a dull, scrappy opening into a frantic, all-action finish.
Trinity had it won, seemed to have blown it, snatched the points back and then were granted enjoyed an incredible escape in the final moments.
Leading 12-2 at the break, they collapsed either side of the hour mark as Salford scored four tries in 12 minutes to take a 10-point lead.
But Wakefield refused to give in and with 10 minutes left Bill Tupou went over from Kyle Wood’s pass. Sam Williams’ conversion cut the gap to four points and two minutes from time the stand-off put Reece Lyne over for his second touchdown to level the scores.
Williams kept his nerve to kick the angled conversion and Salford restarted play with 42 seconds left.
They got the ball back from a short kick-off and in the ensuing set Ben Murdoch-Masila forced his way over the line, but knocked on with one second remaining on the clock.
Trinity coach Chris Chester injured his right arm punching the air at that incident – and Lyne was stretchered off after the final hooter having damaged a knee trying to keep the Salford man out.
“I thought we’d won it and then thrown it away,” Chester said. “It was a great win for us. We got out of jail a bit, but it shows the character and the belief in the group that we can come back and get a result like that, when it looked like we weren’t going to get anything from the game.”
It was the fourth time in as many games this season Wakefield had seen a second half lead wiped out and Chester admitted that was “disappointing”.
He added: “We’ve not been out-enthused in any game this year. We’ve lacked some smarts, but the spirit, belief and effort can never be questioned.”
Wakefield seemed to be in command after wearing Salford down in the opening period, but they should probably have been further than 10 points ahead on the back of an 8-3 penalty count and with the visitors twice reduced to 12 men.
Referee Robert Hicks produced his yellow card for the first time after just four minutes when Lama Tasi upended Anthony England in a tackle.
Salford defied that disadvantage to take a 2-0 lead through a Gareth O’Brien penalty, which was cancelled out at the start of the second quarter by a similar effort from Williams.
Five minutes later Salford were placed on a team warning and in the next set Logan Tomkins was sin-binned for persistent offending by the visitors and Williams took the two.
On 31 minutes Lyne went over in the corner from Williams’ pass and two minutes before the interval Matty Ashurst broke and passed inside to Tom Johnstone. He kicked to the line and Jacob Miller came from nowhere to touch down, though neither try was converted.
Craig Huby knocked on over the Wakefield line early in the second half and it seemed that would prove costly as Murdoch-Masila, Kris Welham, Greg Johnson and George Griffin all crossed from the 51st to the 63rd minute and two O’Brien penalties established a 10-point gap.
Wakefield Trinity: Grix, Caton-Brown, Lyne, Tupou, Johnstone, Miller, Williams, England, Wood, Huby, Ashurst, Hadley, Arona. Subs Batchelor, Fifita, Allgood, Finn.
Salford Red Devils: O’Brien, Johnson, Welham, Evalds, Carney, Lui, Dobson, Mossop. Tomkins, Tasi, Jones, Murdoch-Masila, Flanagan.Subs Kopczak, Griffin, Krasniqi, Brining.
Referee: Robert Hicks (Oldham).