THE AGONY continued for Wakefield Trinity Wildcats last night as they crumbled to an 11th successive defeat.
Wildcats’ last league win was at home to Hull KR three months ago, but the hosts had little trouble turning the tables in the return at Craven Park.
Wakefield’s only try came after 22 minutes and cut Rovers’ lead to two points, but – typically – they conceded soon afterwards and by early in the second half the only question was over the hosts’ winning margin.
The 54-6 drubbing was the eighth successive Super League game in which Wildcats have conceded 40 or more points and they have shipped in a half century on four occasions..
They have scored only two tries and 10 points in the last two and last night – against a team who have a poor defensive record – they lacked any real creativity.
The sides were thrashed by a combined score of 104-4 last week – Wildcats 44-4 at St Helens and Rovers 60-0 away to Wigan Warriors – so the scene wasn’t set for a classic.
The game lived down to its billing.
There were errors aplenty, but Rovers showed more enthusiasm and in Aussie half-back Terry Campese they had a player able to open up Wildcats’ defence whenever he felt like it.
After a poor first 40, Rovers were allowed to run themselves into some form in the second half, scoring 34 points.
Campese, one of several players recalled by Rovers after missing the drubbing at Wigan. was a class above anybody else on the field, though Wakefield’s poor defence made it easy for him and his team-mates.
Wakefield’s wingers were regularly dragged out of position, the visitors looked shaky under the high ball and they missed what should, at this level, have been routine tackles.
Campese’s kick created the hosts’ Josh Mantellato – who missed last week’s game to be best man at his brother’s wedding in Australia – took it under no real pressure and flicked the ball out to Adam Walker.
He spotted a big overlap on Rovers’ left and slung out a long pass to give Kris Welham a walk-in.
There was no goal, but Rovers doubled their lead four minutes later when Campese supplied Ben Cockayne and his pass was finished by Mantellato at the corner.
Even at that early stage it was looking like being a long night for Wildcats, but they managed to turn their first spell of pressure, after 23 minutes.
Welham couldn’t take Kevin Larroyer’s pass, Rovers were then penalised on their own line and Joe Arundel stretched over for his first Wakefield try after Tim Smith and Craig Hall had handled.
Hall, against his former club, landed the conversion, but then missed a tackle on Cockayne, allowing the ex-Wakefield centre to dash up the middle and return the ball to the pacy Albert Kelly, who scored between the posts.
Mantellato booted the first of his seven conversions and added a second, from wide out, after grabbing his second try five minutes before the break.
Campese was again the creator, picking the ball up at acting half, making a few metres and then slinging out a classy long pass to the winger, who touched down acrobatically at the corner.
With a few seconds to go to half-time Rovers rushed to form a scrum near their own line. Campese kicked, Hall charged it down, there was a scramble and Pita Godinet gathered to scamper between the posts.
Referee Joe Cobb indicated no try and video referees Steve Ganson and Richard Silverwood backed him up, spotting a knock-on by Matt Ryan.
A try and conversion then would have given Wildcats some hope, but there was no way back for them after Rovers scored first following the break.
Cockayne had to go off after being clattered round the head by Ryan near the Rovers line, but the hosts added to their tally in the set from the resulting penalty when Kelly grubbered through and Graeme Horne gathered to twist over.
Kieran Dixon profited from Ryan’s error, under Campese’s kick, to touch down on 55 minutes.
He couldn’t convert, but added a second try five minutes later, when Kelly’s grubber kick deceived Jacob Miller.
It was a rout by this stage and Ken Sio and John Boudebza added back-to-back tries before Tyrone McCarthy rounded off the scoring three minutes from time.
Reflecting on the defeat, Wakefield coach James Webster said: “In parts we competed alright – but in other parts we were absolutely miles off.
“Our defence is a problem with teams hanging in there long enough we then leak points. We just aren’t good enough at the moment to defend that period.”
Wakefield forward Ali Lauitiiti missed the game after picking up a hamstring injury in the final training session and failing a subsequent fitness test before the team set off for the match.
Hull KR: Cockayne, Dixon, Sio, Welham, Mantellato, Campese, Kelly, Walker, Budebza, Tilse, Larroyer, Horne, McCarthy. Subs (all used) Green. Ollett, Cox, Donaldson.
Wakefield Wildcats: Miller, Johnstone, Lyne, Arundel, Riley, T Smith, Scruton, McShane, Kavanagh, Ryan, Washbrook, D Smith. Subs (all used) Godinet, Anderson, Simon, Molloy.
Referee: Joe Cobb (Leigh).