Wakefield Trinity 30 Leigh Centurions 20 - hosts leave it late to secure third straight Super League win
Resurgent Wakefield Trinity survived a scare against Betfred Super League’s bottom club Leigh Centurions to record a third-successive win.
Trinity trailed twice and were two points behind going into the final 10 minutes before former Leigh winger Liam Kay’s try pulled the game from the fire.
Mason Lino added a fifth try for the hosts two minutes from time - all of which he converted - but the 30-20 scoreline flattered Trinity and was tough on Leigh.
Against a team who have lost all their nine Super League games this year, Wakefield began in complacent fashion and were sloppy for long spells, but quality players stepped up at crucial times. Wakefield had only 16 fit players for all but 10 minutes of the game, on a warm afternoon, after forward Kelepi Tangino was hurt in a tackle.
He was replaced by Dave Fifita who made a strong impact and was involved in Trinity’s first two tries, late in the opening period, which turned an eight-point deficit into a narrow half-time lead.
Leigh had hung on gamely up until then, without looking like adding a second try to Joe Mellor’s spectacular opener.
Trinity seemed to have taken a firm grip on the game when they added a third, converted try on 50 minutes.
That touchdown was scored by Wakefield’s outstanding player so far this term, Joe Westerman and was the 100th of his career in his 350th game.
But Leigh - in Kurt Haggerty’s first game as caretaker-coach following John Duffy’s departure four days earlier - replied quickly to make it a four-point ball game and then hit the front for the second time with 13 minutes left.
Unfortunately for Leigh, they have forgotten how to win a game, while Trinity have recently got into the habit.
Successive knock-ons from last-tackle kicks on Leigh’s line allowed Wakefield to build huge pressure and it paid off in the 72nd minute when Jowitt’s pass found Kay and the in-form winger got over against his former club.
Lino converted from the touchline and then Lino put on some smart footwork to score a lovely solo try to seal the win.
Leigh went ahead after seven minutes, having survived back-to-back drop outs, through a wonderful try by half-back Joe Mellor.
On the last tackle, he chipped ahead twice, regathered both times and touched down between the posts to give Ryan Brierley an easy conversion.
Leigh were in front until 100 seconds before the break, keeping Trinity at bay through a combination of enthusiastic defence, particularly a superb try-saving tackle by Brendan Elliot on Max Jowitt and sloppy errors from the hosts.
Wakefield failed to complete the set after each of their first two penalties and Bill Tupou missed a chance when he spilled Jacob Miller’s pass.
Sa’u came across to make a fine tackle on Kay, barging him into touch when a few metres out and while Leigh offered only limited threat on attack, James Batchelor did really well to prevent Matty Gee getting the ball down over the Trinity line.
Centurions extended their lead on 28 minutes through a Brierley kick after Trinity were penalised in possession in front of their posts, but Wakefield finally got their act together in the final five minutes of the half, when they scored back-to-back tries.
Jay Pitts went over from Reece Lyne’s pass, after Westerman, Fifita - who did well to keep the ball alive - and Jowitt had handled.
Trinity immediately received two six-against and Fifita again did the damage with an off-load to Batchelor who came up with a strong finish. Sa’u again failed to use his support at the start of the second half and Wakefield went two scores clear soon afterwards through Westerman, from a pass by Lino.
Leigh hit back, out of the blue, on 54 minutes when Mellor backed up Craig Mullen’s break to score his second try, which Brierley converted
Sa’u finally managed to get a pass away to his winger Anthony Gelling with 17 minutes left, but Jowitt - who is in good form on attack and defence - got across to tackle him into touch. Moments after that, Leigh attacked on the other side of the field and Lewis Tierney accelerated past Jowitt for a fine finish to level the scores.
Brierley had provided the pass to the left-winger and his conversion from wide out edged Leigh two points in front.
Aided by Leigh’s errors, Wakefield, however, held their nerve to snatch another victory which eases them further away from the relegation zone