Ill-discipline was punished as Wakefield Trinity Wildcats slumped to a potentially very costly 44-18 defeat at Hull KR.
Wildcats were hammered 13-7 in the penalty count and a run of six in succession against them in the second period proved crucial.
Wakefield led 18-16 at the interval, but conceded 28 unanswered points in the second half as Hull KR kick-started their season and dealt a painful blow to the visitors’ own top-eight hopes.
The game was still in the balance going into the final quarter, but weight of possession told against Wakefield and Rovers scored four tries in 14 minutes to run away with the result.
It wasn’t a good game. Both these teams are frustrating to watch, capable of some high-quality rugby, but prone to far too many mad moments.
Several of the tries scored were excellent, but there were also some poor handling errors and casual defence.
The four minutes before half-time summed that up nicely.
Richard Mathers’ long pass found Lee Smith and give credit to his excellent footwork, but he should have been stopped by the three defenders between him and the line.
Smith converted his own touchdown to give Wildcats the lead.
But Craig Hall’s restart was dropped by Mathers.
Rovers picked up, but then knocked-on and– under the new advantage rule – it should have been a Hull KR scrum.
Instead referee James Child waved play-on, but got himself out of jail by penalising Kyle Amor for dissent and Graeme Horne went over for an unconverted try following the touch-finder.
That made it 16-16, but the comedy of errors continued as Rovers’ allowed Ben Cockayne’s re-start to find touch.
From the scrum, with 30 seconds of the half remaining, Travis Burns held Dean Collis down in front of the posts and Lee Smith landed the kick to send Wildcats in two points ahead.
Rovers had opened a 12-0 lead, through tries by Horne and Luke George and two Michael Dobson goals, inside the opening quarter.
Wakefield hit back with two tries in as many minutes just before the half hour, with Tim Smith creating a touchdown for Dean Collis before Kyle Wood and Vince Mellars sent Cockayne over and Lee Smith goaled.
The game was anyone’s at half-time, but Wakefield weren’t in it once Rovers went ahead through a Hall try from Horne’s kick, converted by Dobson.
As things began to get increasingly heated, Rovers took advantage of a flurry of penalties to move two scores clear through George’s second try, at the end of a lovely sweeping move from right to left.
With 14 minutes left Rovers ran a penalty in front of the posts and Rhys Lovegrove crashed over. Dobson converted.
Wildcats were caught offside from the re-start and in the set from the penalty Con Mika went over and Dobson’s goal put the game out of Wakefield’s reach.
Lovegrove added his second try soon afterwards and Dobson’s sixth goal completed the scoring.
A farcical element was added to the game through the mis-adventures of Rovers’ Lincoln Withers. He suffered a cut and was forced to change his shirt on a regular basis.
hull kr: Hall, Brown, Salter, Welham, George, Burns, Dobson, Griffin, J Hodgson, Paea, Horne, Lovegrove, Mika. Subs (all used): Withers, Cox, Beaumont, Walker.
WAKEFIELD TRINITY WILDCATS: Mathers, Fox, Collis, L Smith, Cockayne, Wood, T Smith, Poore, Aiton, Raleigh, Mellars, Kirmond, Washbrook. Subs (all used): Amor, Wilkes, Molloy, Annakin.
REFEREE: James Child (Batley).