Wakefield Trinity 16 St Helens 36: Wakefield comeback falls short as Saints triumph
WAKEFIELD TRINITY'S promotion-winning squad of 1998 held a reunion at last night's game, but their presence could not inspire a win over St Helens '“ despite a spirited second half fightback.
The visitors moved a step closer to the Betfred Super League leaders’ shield with a 36-16 victory in the second round of the Super-8s.
Andy Kelly’s team of 20 years ago did a lap of honour at half-time, by which stage the modern generation were already facing an uphill battle.
There was no score and not much action for an even opening 27 minutes, but then three tries before the break sent Saints in with a 16-0 lead.
Wakefield gave a terrific account of themselves in the third quarter, cutting the gap to four points and they were only six adrift as late as the 70th minute before two late tries ensured Saints’ return to winning ways after successive Cup and league defeats. Wakefield started well and played some good attacking rugby in the second half, but defensive lapses and penalties proved costly.
The opening try came after Craig Huby booted a kick dead on the last tackle and Saints surged upfield in the resulting seven-tackle, set.
Ben Barba’s long pass to the wing was taken by Tommy Makinson and he touched down one-handed at the corner.
Jack Ashworth made a big impact off the bench for Saints and his offload began the move leading to the next touchdown.
He found James Roby, Jon Wilkin was next in line and from his pass Jonny Lomax dummied and sliced through the middle.
At the end of the next set Danny Richardson – who converted the first two tries – hoisted a kick to the right which Makinson got to ahead of Max Jowitt before rolling over for his second try.
The nearest Trinity came to a try in the opening 40 was when Tyler Randell was held just short from acting-half.
The hosts broke their duck five minutes into the second period when Jacob Miller’s offload found Bill Tupou and the in-form centre put Kyle Wood over for a try which Ryan Hampshire converted.
Jowitt’s run from the restart would have created a try for Tupou, but for some brilliant defensive work by Makinson. Huby was sin-binned for a high shot on Kyle Amor soon afterwards, but Wakefield cut the gap while down to 12 men, Pauli Pauli scattering three defenders from close to the line to score his fifth try in four games.
Hampshire added the extras, but with Huby prowling the touchline waiting to return, Pauli knocked on and Theo Fages went over in the resulting set, Richardson converting.
That could have knocked the stuffing out of Trinity, but they rallied again with 14 minutes left through Tupou, who finished at the corner from Miller’s long pass.
There was no goal and Saints went two scores in front four minutes later when Luke Douglas touched down from a kick by Richardson who added the extras. Richardson’s kick took a wicked bounce away from the defence and was collected by Regan Grace who cut through for the final try on 74 minutes.
Richardson converted and completed the scoring with a penalty after the final hooter.
Wakefield Trinity: Jowitt, Jones-Bishop, Lyne, Tupou, Johnstone, Miller, Hampshire, Fifita, Randell, England, Ashurst, Batchelor, Horo. Subs: Wood, Pauli, Arona, Huby.
St Helens: Barba, Makinson, Costello, Percival, Grace, Lomax, Richardson, Amor, Roby, Douglas, Taia, Knowles, McCarthy-Scarsbrook. Subs: Fages, Wilkin, Lees, Ashworth.
Referee: Liam Moore (Wigan).