WAKEFIELD TRINITY have a new hero – the hulking Aussie prop David Fifita who scored twice to send jubilant Wildcats into the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup semi-finals.
It is the first time the club has reached the last-four since 2008 and, furthermore, they are now just 80 minutes from a first Wembley appearance in 37 years.
They thoroughly deserved it after edging Huddersfield Giants last night and, as they prepare for Saturday’s draw, it was a perfect response after such a poor showing against Leeds Rhinos last week.
Fifita, the ex-Cronulla Sharks forward sin-binned on a forgettable debut during that 32-6 defeat, scored after just 84 seconds and powered over for another in the second period to confirm the victory.
In fairness, both sides scored four tries apiece but Wakefield’s Liam Finn claimed a faultless six goals from as many attempts compared to Danny Brough, the Giants captain who missed all three of his before Jamie Ellis took over at the death and was also off-target.
Trinity boss Chris Chester, who led Hull KR to Wembley last season, had called for character from his side and leadership, especially given the absence of captain Danny Kirmond and vice-skipper Nick Scruton.
They were also missing French prop Mickael Simon but they delivered, digging in when needed after wobbling a little during the first period as Giants came from 14-0 down to 14-8 at the interval.
Wakefield, though, took a giant stride towards victory in the 44th minute when they were gift-wrapped a try by Scott Grix, who sent out a long pass which Tom Johnstone was always going to intercept.
With his blistering pace, the young winger was always going to go the requisite 85m to score, too.
Finn converted and added the fifth of his six goals when Fifita bundled over again off his short pass in the 56th minute to make it 26-8.
Giants hit back immediately via England winger Jermaine McGillvary after winning a short kick-off but Finn added a penalty and though McGillvary added his second try in the 79th minute, it was too late.
Trinity, who won here 10-2 in Super League less than fortnight ago, built up that 14-0 advantage inside just 18 minutes.
Huddersfield were down to 12 men following a yellow card for Brough’s swinging arm on Reece Lyne – a crude challenge that saw the centre leave with concussion. Ben Jones-Bishop dived over in the corner from that penalty and they looked set for a comfortable passage into the semi-finals.
However, Giants hit back with tries from Grix, who raced in halfway when Matty Ashurst spilled, and then Jake Connor after ex-Trinity star Brough returned to the field and immediately splintered their defence with a piercing run.
Connor thought he had scored again just 15 seconds before the interval but the Hull FC-bound winger was ruled to have not grounded correctly.
There was an emotional tribute beforehand to Ronan Costello, the 17-year-old Giants player who tragically died after an incident during a recent Academy game.
The teenager’s family, friends and team-mates all congregated on the field for a minute’s applause.
Huddersfield Giants: Grix; McGillvary, Cudjoe, Wardle, Connor; Brough, Ellis; Crabtree, Hinchcliffe, Rapira, Symonds, Ta’ai, Lawerence. Subs: Murphy, Wood, Johnson, Mason.
Wakefield Trinity: Jowitt; Johnstone, Lyne, Tupou, Jones-Bishop; Miller, Finn; Fifita, Moore, England, Molloy, Ashurst, Sio. Subs: Arona, Anderson, Annakin, Walton.
Referee: Gareth Hewer (Whitehaven).