Last year’s Super League wooden spoonists Wakefield Trinity Wildcats kicked off preparations for the new campaign with a deserved 14-6 win over champions Leeds Rhinos in the Boxing Day Festive Challenge
Wildcats led 14-0 before Rhinos got points on the board and new boss Brian Smith could be satisfied with the organisation, defensive effort and spirit shown by his team.
Leeds also defended well in poor conditions, but made a series of errors and could have no complaints about the result.
Wakefield pressed in the opening quarter and took a deserved lead after 17 minutes. Liam Finn teed up Tinirau Arona and he carried the ball strongly before slipping out a fine offload and Anthony England was in support to cross.
Finn, who had a big game for the visitors, converted and that completed the first half scoring. Leeds had the lion’s share of territory and possession after that, but were kept out by some tough tackling and their own handling errors in the difficult conditions.
Wildcats finished the half with 12 players on the field after Tom Johnstone was sin-binned for preventing a quick play the ball by Ash Handley after Ashton Golding’s initial break had given Mitch Achurch a run.
Golding was Rhinos’ most impressive player, with some steady handling and eue-catching running from full-back.
Beau Falloon, Rhinos’ new Australian recruit, took a couple of knocks, including one in the opening exchanges.
He did get over the line on 32 minutes, but Brad Singleton had already knocked on from the debutant’s pass.
Wakefield extended their lead 12 minutes into the second half when Jordan Tansey landed a penalty goal.
Six minutes later Jacob Miller grubbered over the line, Danny McGuire failed to make the ball dead and Scott Anderson touched down.
Tansey’s conversion made it 14-0, but Leeds finally got on the board with 15 minutes left when Carl Ablett crossed from Rob Burrow’s offload and Jordan Lilley added the extras.
Wildcats’ hooker Scott Moore went off after the opening set of the game and did not return.