Boss Richard Agar demanded a response from his Wakefield Trinity Wildcats players following their Magic Weekend humiliation – and they delivered in spades.
A scratch Wakefield side couldn’t create what would have been the shock of the season, but they gave run-away Super League leaders Wigan Warriors a real fright.
Eight days after being embarrassed by Castleford Tigers, Wildcats led at the interval and Wigan didn’t go in front for the second and decisive time until the 72nd minute.
Fourteen points in the final eight minutes flattered Wigan.
And it was cruel on Wakefield, though they had the consolation of keeping Sam Tomkins off the scoresheet for the first time in 12 games, preventing him setting a new club record.
The 36-23 defeat was a fantastic effort from a Wakefield side who were without both first-choice half-backs, Paul Sykes and Tim Smith, as well as hooker Paul Aiton, top prop Andy Raleigh and star back-rower Ali Lauitiiti – and they lost stand-in pivot Lee Smith in the second half.
Everything went according to the script for the opening 14 minutes as Wigan coasted into a 10-0 lead, courtesy of a couple of tries by Josh Charnley and a Pat Richards conversion.
But then – inspired by Justin Poore – Wakefield decided to rip up the script.
Sam Tomkins spilled Lee Smith’s bomb and Charnley picked up in an offside position.
From the penalty, Matty Wildie, Richard Mathers and the impressive Kyle Wood shifted the ball wide and Dean Collis – who had an excellent game – finished strongly at the corner.
That was on 20 minutes and four later, Wildcats were in front as captain fantastic Danny Kirmond crashed over from Mathers’ pass and Smith booted the goal. Four minutes before the break Chris Tuson spilled the ball over the Wildcats line.
Wakefield received a penalty from the tap and following that Wood spotted a gap.
The half-back got past Harrison Hansen and then showed a great turn of pace to beat Tomkins to the line.
Smith couldn’t convert, but with four seconds of the half left Wakefield received a penalty and the stand-off kicked to the 40 metre line and then got himself in a good position to take the ball from Wood’s tap, firing a smart drop goal over to send the hosts in two scores clear.
Harrison Hansen crossed 50 seconds after the interval and Richards converted to sound alarm bells in the home camp.
But Wakefield showed amazing spirit to rally, with Wood putting Kirmond in.
With Smith off the field, winger Ben Cockayne took over the kicking.
And his goal made it 23-16. Charnley completed his hat-trick, however, on the hour and the conversion cut the gap to a point.
On 71 minutes a forward pass 30 metres out – one of a series of errors near their own line – gave Wigan a chance.
And Mossop took it, crashing over between the posts leaving the shot at goal a mere formality for the Wigan goalkicker.
Richards landed his fourth conversion.
The Wigan wing man then made certain of the points with a penalty on 75, before Darrell Goulding grabbed a late touchdown and Richards’ goal completed the scoring.
WAKEFIELD TRINITY WILDCATS: Mathers, Fox, Collis, Lyne, Cockayne, L Smith, Wood, Poore, Wildie, Wilkes, Kirmond, Walshaw, Tautai. Subs (all used): Molloy, Washbrook, Amor, Annakin.
wigan warriors: S Tomkins, Charnley, Goulding, Thornley, Richards, Powell, M Smith, Flower, McIlorum, Mossop, Hansen, Farrell, Burke. Subs (all used): Lloyd, Tuson, Taylor, L Tomkins.
Referee: Thierry Alibert (Toulouse).