Craig Hall grabbed a last-gasp try, converted by Liam Finn, as Wakefield snatched a dramatic 18-16 victory in an ill-tempered match at Widnes last night.
The Vikings had looked set for their first win in six First Utility Super League games as they led 16-12 in the closing stages, but Hall touched down in the 78th minute and Finn slotted the kick to settle a contest that saw two players sent off and three sin-binned.
Wakefield hooker Scott Moore and Widnes scrum-half Aaron Heremaia were dismissed midway through the first half, with Vikings centre Patrick Ah Van having already been sin-binned and team-mates Lloyd White and Stefan Marsh following suit in the second period.
Rhys Hanbury was hoping to make it a memorable night to mark his personal achievement of beating Daniel Frame’s club record of 106 Super League appearances for Widnes.
He almost put Marsh over for an early try, but Widnes were down to 12 men after eight minutes when Ah Van was sin-binned for a crunching tackle on Ashley Gibson, who was helped off in a daze.
The yellow card infuriated the Widnes fans, who felt the challenge was legal, and they made their point vociferously.
Replacement Chris Annakin did not take long to make an impact with a surging run.
Ah Van returned and was immediately felled by a tackle from Moore, who was sent off along with Heremaia after an ensuing brawl.
Ah Van was taken off for treatment before returning 10 minutes later.
Matt Whitley was held up over the line and then Chris Dean bundled into touch as Widnes strove to break the deadlock.
Wakefield’s troubles continued with skipper Danny Kirmond forced to leave the action with concussion on the half-hour.
But the Cats went ahead against the run of play after 34 minutes, when Jacob Miller shot through the defence for Anthony Tupou to cross, and Finn converted.
Miller lost possession, but referee Joe Cobb ruled the ball had come off a Widnes defender. Finn could have scored a try if he had taken a long Tom Johnstone pass as Wakefield looked threatening.
Ah Van had a try disallowed for a forward pass, but a Finn penalty made it 8-0 at the break.
Widnes finally breached the visitors’ defence early in the second half after Charly Runciman’s touchline burst beat Ben Jones-Bishop and Max Jowitt.
Another Finn penalty made it 10-4 but Widnes were level with a converted try after Eamon O’Carroll took Gil Dudson’s slipped pass to score under the posts.
Finn’s third penalty edged Wakefield back in front at 12-10 before Widnes had White sin-binned for a professional foul.
But the Vikings went ahead for the first time with Hanbury racing over and then converting his own try to make it 16-12.
Marsh was then yellow-carded for a blatant trip, before Hall went over for the vital try.
Widnes: Hanbury, Thompson, Ah Van, Runciman, Marsh, Mellor, Heremaia, Dudson, White, O’Carroll, Dean, Houston, Cahill. Subs: Sa, Manuokafoa, Leuluai, Whitley.
Wakefield: Jowitt, Jones-Bishop, Gibson, Hall, Johnstone, Miller, Finn, Scruton, Moore, Arona, Kirmond, Ashurst, A. Tupou. Subs: Annakin, Simon, Howarth, Yates.
Referee: Joe Cobb (RFL)