Wakefield Trinity trio suffer injury setbacks in Cup defeat to Catalans Dragons
THREE INJURIES added to Wakefield Trinity’s woes as they were knocked out of the Betfred Challenge Cup by Catalans Dragons for the second successive year.
Star winger Tom Johnstone was cleared to play after suffering a concussion in Trinity’s previous game against Wigan, but took another bang to the head in the first half and will miss Friday’s return to St Helens, scene of the 26-6 Cup loss.
“He wasn’t in great shape at half-time,” Wakefield coach Chris Chester said of his England World Cup prospect.
“That will rule him out for this week, but we have done without Tom Johnstone before and it’s important the guys who are second and third on the ladder put their hand up and have a really good week at training.”
Hooker Josh Wood was hurt late in the game and Chester confirmed: “It’s an elbow, he will go for a scan.
“Max Jowitt also came off with a head knock and that’ll rule him out for Friday as well.
“The guys are hurting in there [the changing rooms, after the game], they are doing it tough at the minute, but we genuinely feel the effort was fantastic and I don’t think there was a great deal between the two sides.”
Catalans scored first through man-of-the-match Sam Tomkins, but Trinity levelled with a clever, improvised try when Johnstone kicked infield and Mason Lino ran through to touch down and then add the conversion.
James Maloney improved Tomkins’ try and kicked a penalty to give Catalans an 8-6 interval lead.
The game’s key moment came 10 minutes into the second half when Lino’s attempted 40-20 kick went out on the full and Josh Drinkwater scored for Catalans in the resulting set. Catalans’ strong-running ex-Castleford Tigers forward Mike McMeeken had a touchdown ruled out by video referee Robert Hicks before Tom Davies got over at the corner to extend the French side’s advantage and then Gil Dudson capped a good performance by crashing over through close-range, Maloney maintaining his 100 per cent record with the boot.
Despite disappointment at the result, Chester said: “I thought we were good.
“There were momentum swings in the game and the attempted 40-20, when the ball went out on the full, really cost us.
“I thought we were well and truly in the game and it was a good arm wrestle. I thought we were a bit unfortunate not to go in at half-time in front.”
Trinity had chances, particularly when Jay Pitts touched down following a chip and chase by Lino, but Hicks said no try.
Chester also felt Bill Tupou would have scored if he had gone for the line himself in the incident which led to Johnstone’s injury.
“That’s twice in two weeks we’ve lost a pivotal player in Tom and he was having a really good game,” Chester added.
“It throws your interchanges out and you have to play players in different positions, but I thought effort-wise, we were really good.
“We spoke about going set for set with Catalans and waiting to see which team broke.
“I felt just before half-time we had the upper hand and if we’d gone in at half-time in front it could have been a different story, but Catalans did to us what we wanted to try and do to them – complete high, kick long and chase really hard.
“It is frustrating, we had some adversity and we needed to react better to it, but there were certainly some positive signs.”
Catalans Dragons: S Tomkins, Davies, Langi, Whare, Yaha, Maloney, Drinkwater, Dudson, Da Costa, Bousquet, Whitley, McMeeken, Garcia. Substitutes: Morgue, Seguier, Baitieri, Kasiano.
Wakefield Trinity: Jowitt, Senior, Lyne, Tupou, Johnstone, Miller, Lino, Fifita, J Wood, Tanginoa, Ashurst, Pitts, Westerman. Substitutes: Crowther, Arona, Batchelor, Green.
Referee: Chris Kendall (Huddersfield).