THINGS HAVE generally gone well for Wakefield Trinity Wildcats since James Webster was appointed coach in June, but the season ended on a flat note yesterday.
Wakefield squandered an opportunity to go into the autumn on a high as they were crushed 42-18 at home by Hull KR.
Despite three second-half tries, it was a dismal performance from Wakefield, who looked disorganised and disinterested for most of the 80 minutes.
The one high point for Wakefield was a try to prop Andy Raleigh in his final game before retirement.
Raleigh has been an outstanding servant to Sheffield Eagles, Hull KR, Huddersfield Giants and Wakefield and deserved a better farewell.
Yesterday’s result, coupled with Hull’s win over Leeds Rhinos on Friday, meant Wakefield dropped a place to 12th on the final table, though that was at least one place higher than most pundits predicted in pre-season and by avoiding relegation they did get the job done.
Hull KR went into the game knowing a win would see them finish above Hull and – though Wakefield had 10th in their sights – the visitors were much more up for the game.
Wakefield handed Hull KR three of their five first-half tries, twice from appalling passes on their own line and another being an interception at the other end.
There was another comedy moment in the second half when Paul McShane grubbered to the visitors’ in-goal, but Chris Riley managed to dive over the ball.
Hull KR went ahead before Wildcats had been in possession and the game was never a contest.
A tackle in the air on Greg Eden gave the visitors a penalty at the end of the first set and from that the Australia-bound full-back’s long pass was finished by Omari Caro at the corner.
On 18 Paul Sykes, in his final game for Wakefield, slung out a long pass – roughly aimed towards Richard Owen.
It got nowhere near him and Macauley Hallett only had to pick the ball up and step over the line.
Five later Eden took a high pass from Neville Costigan on half-way and stepped past Sykes for a well-taken score.
On 28 Wakefield looked set to score when Ali Lauitiiti accepted the ball from Pita Godinet a few metres out.
He tried to find Reece Lyne, but Caro intercepted and showed impressive pace to go the full length of the field.
Soon after that another terrible pass, by Godinet from the base of a scrum, gave Hallett his second try in similar circumstances to the first.
And on the stroke of half-time a Wildcats knock-on around halfway led to a scrum, Eden kicked to the corner and Caro read it well to pick up and go over for his hat-trick.
After being booed off at half-time, Wildcats could only improve in the second half and so they did, slightly.
Keal Carlile went over from a soft try from acting-half on 45 minutes before Wakefield got on the scoreboard when – after Raleigh had been held up over the line – Tim Smith kicked to the corner and Dean Collis touched down.
Travis Burns put Eden in moments later, but Wildcats stumbled into double figures as McShane put Riley in at the corner and then Raleigh enjoyed his moment to savour, powering over in the next set. Sykes converted all three Wildcats tries, but they were flattered by the final margin, as bad as it was.
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats: Sykes, Owen, Collis, Lyne, Riley, Godinet, T Smith, Anderson, McShane, Raleigh, Gilmour, Washbrook, Molly. Subs (all used) Wildie, Lauitiiti, Annakin, D Smith.
Hull KR: Eden, Caro, Salter, Welham, Hallett, Burns, Hall, Walker, J Hodgson, Weyman, Lovegrove, Horne, Costigan. Subs (all used) Green, Cox, Carlile, Larroyer.
Referee: Robert Hicks (Oldham).