Hull Kingston Rovers 15 Wakefield Trinity 10: Trinity in deep trouble after wilting in the heat
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Knowing they face top-six sides in seven of their remaining eight games, Willie Poching’s team had little room for error in east Hull after dropping to the bottom of Super League following Toulouse Olympique’s win over Leeds Rhinos.
Wakefield edged a tense first half and saw Hull KR lose two players to injury inside the opening half an hour, leaving the hosts hamstrung in testing conditions.
But as they did in their damaging Magic Weekend defeat at the hands of Toulouse, Trinity came out flat after half-time and were punished.
Rovers scored three tries in the 20 minutes after the restart, giving them a lead they held onto despite a frantic finale.
The priceless win - Danny McGuire’s first as caretaker boss - eases KR’s relegation concerns and breathes new life into their play-off bid.
McGuire’s men are now only two points behind sixth-placed Hull FC, which changes the mood at Craven Park dramatically.
The result appears to leave Trinity in a straight shootout with Toulouse for a place in Super League next year.
The French side’s third straight victory the previous evening raised the stakes at Craven Park and it was a predictably nervy opening.
Already without a host of injured players, Rovers were dealt another blow when they lost Dean Hadley to a dislocated shoulder inside the opening 10 minutes.
That gave on-loan St Helens second-rower Sam Royle an early opportunity and the debutant was an energetic presence on the right edge.
Enthusiasm has never been a problem for Mikey Lewis, the young half-back coming to Hull KR’s rescue after Wakefield winger Lewis Murphy had evaded Elliot Minchella and Lachlan Coote to get to within 10 metres of the line.
Lewis was involved again moments later when he encouraged Trinity debutant Jorge Taufua to push him at a play the ball - but the clunky Robins were unable to take advantage.
Wayward passing was a theme of KR’s first-half performance and the mood of the home fans did not improve.
After a pause in play for a water break, Wakefield came back refreshed and took the lead through Max Jowitt on 22 minutes. Mason Lino - back in the side after missing Magic Weekend - sent Jowitt through a hole in the Hull KR defence and the full-back did the rest, racing around Coote to open the scoring.
Jowitt failed to add the extras from out wide but it was an important breakthrough in a game between two sides low on confidence.
Rovers suffered another setback when Shaun Kenny-Dowall was forced off just before the half-hour mark, leaving the hosts two subs down for the majority of the match.
David Fifita had a try ruled out for a ball steal as Wakefield continued to edge the energy battle, epitomised by a gang tackle that dragged Coote into touch.
Trinity celebrated with vigour but their 4-0 advantage was a precarious one as the sides left the field at half-time.
Within 11 minutes of the restart, it had been wiped out after a fast start to the second half by the Robins.
First Coote put Jimmy Keinhorst over in the corner with a nice flick pass before Ethan Ryan plucked Lewis’ high kick out of the sky to touch down on the other flank.
Coote, who endured a difficult night from the tee at Magic Weekend, was preferred to the recalled Will Dagger but he sent both touchline conversions wide.
Rovers had their tails up and thought they were in again when Lewis was sent clear by Minchella, only to be pulled back for what was deemed a forward pass.
Wakefield were bailing water and lost a man to injury themselves, Jack Croft forced off as the match entered the closing stages.
The Robins appeared to have struck a decisive blow when Coote went over after a classy piece of play and converted his own try.
Hull KR had an 11-point lead thanks to Dagger’s drop goal but for a little while, it looked as if the home team would live to regret that decision.
Wakefield got the ball back from the restart and scored later in the set through Murphy from Lino’s floated pass.
Lino slotted over a nerveless conversion from the touchline with seven minutes left on the clock to set up a grandstand finish.
After Coote dropped Miller’s high kick close to his own line, the tension reached fever pitch.
But the Robins dug deep to hold firm, Miller coming the closest to finding a way through when he was held up.
The relief inside Craven Park was palpable when the full-time hooter sounded, with Trinity left to reflect on a big opportunity missed.
Hull Kingston Rovers: Coote, Ryan, Wood, Kenny-Dowall, Hall, Dagger, Lewis, Sims, Parcell, King, Hadley, Keinhorst, Minchella. Substitutes: Litten, Maher, Fishwick, Royle.
Wakefield Trinity: Jowitt, Murphy, Croft, Hall, Taufua, Miller, Lino, Whitbread, Hood, Arona, Ashurst, Pitts, Batchelor. Substitutes: Bowes, Tanginoa, Fifita, Bowden.
Referee: Marcus Griffiths.