Smith relieved after Wakefield Wildcats get monkey off their back

Wakefield's Matt Ryan is stopped in his tracks against Hull.
Wakefield's Matt Ryan is stopped in his tracks against Hull.
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Wakefield coach Brian Smith watched his side end their 16-match losing run in Super League with a remarkable fightback against Hull and then took the blame for their woeful start.

It looked to be familiar tale for Super League’s bottom club after they fell 16-0 behind after conceding tries to Kirk Yeaman, Jordan Rankin and Liam Watts inside the first 17 minutes.

But they hit back with four unanswered tries of their own through Jacob Miller, Richard Owen, Joe Arundel and Matty Ryan to win 26-16, their first league success since February.

“There is a lot of relief in there,” said Smith, who was in charge of his third match. “There’s been a lot of people working for that, chiseling away and trying to get over the hump for 16 games.

“The players have been working hard to get there and they had to work the hardest way tonight, coming from 16-0 down but they did it well in the end.

“We were very disappointing in those early minutes and I think I’ve got to look at myself and what I’m doing there because that’s three really sluggish starts in a row.

“So I need to review it with Stuey (Dickens) and Lee (Gilmour) and the other staff to see if we can work out a different way to start a game because that is the hardest way to play football. For a team that’s down on confidence to concede tries as softly as we did and then come back is like running uphill the whole game.”

Former New Zealand international full-back Kevin Locke, one of three debutants, was named the sponsors’ man of the match but he agreed with his coach that the award flattered him.

Locke, who joined the Wildcats on a short-term deal after securing a release from his unhappy time at Salford, struggled at times in his first match for two months but played a key role in two of Wakefield’s tries.

Smith added: “I spoke to Kev after the game and told him they had named him man of the match and he said ‘wait until I’m fit’.

“He had some nice touches but Kevin was well off his game at times tonight and understandably so.

“It’s been a terribly emotional time for him, it’s been a big drain on him but he’s got a smile back on his face. Hopefully we can keep him in a really positive environment and he can continue to improve his game.

“His knee is not his problem it’s just general fitness and sharpness.”

While Wakefield remain rooted to the foot of the table, still seven points adrift of Salford, they will head for the run-in in buoyant mood, starting with a return game against Hull at the KC Stadium on Sunday.

That is now a must-win fixture for Hull, who missed the chance to climb out of the bottom four, just a week after crashing out of the Challenge Cup in dismal fashion.

“I’m deflated hugely,” Hull coach Lee Radford said. “We had highlighted the importance of this fixture and what a difficult this place is to come to. Our record at this ground is terrible.

“It’s always a dogfight here and I expected to scrape it if we were going to get a result.

“But after that 15-minute period we didn’t give ourselves a chance to get any momentum back.

“Our completion rate was 60 per cent again. That’s two weeks on the spin now and that’s not good enough.

“Our energy looked fine at the start but a couple of calls went against us, a couple of uncharacteristic mistakes and back-to-back penalties and before you know it the game has gone.”

Hull also had prop Mickey Paea placed on report for a tackle that left former team-mate Danny Washbrook concussed but Radford does not expect any repercussions.

“He has got nothing whatsoever to worry about, there was nothing in it,” Radford said. “He’s not gone over the horizontal and Washy hurt his head on the floor.”