IT WAS a case of new coach, same result as Wakefield slumped to their 12th successive First Utility Super League defeat yesterday.
Caretaker-boss Stuart Dickens made a series of changes, including dropping goal-kicking full-back/stand-off Craig Hall, but there was no significant improvement in performance, though their effort was a little better, particularly after half-time.
In terms of skill, Wakefield were as bad in their 30-18 home loss to Widnes Vikings as they have been virtually all year, lacking any sort of creativity on attack or bite in defence.
The positive from Wakefield’s point of view was they kept the opposition’s score below 40 for the first time in nine league games.
That, though, was largely because Widnes were poor themselves in what was their first away win of the season.
Even their coach, Denis Betts, wasn’t happy afterwards, slamming the Belle Vue pitch as a “disgrace” and describing it as a “poor, poor game”.
And Dickens, who took over from James Webster six days ago on a temporary basis, was actually in better spirits.
“We asked for a response from the players,” he said. “In terms of commitment and desire and determination, I thought we got that.
“I thought that side of the game couldn’t be questioned at all. The things we need to improve on now are probably a bit of quality with the ball and a bit of smartness in decision-making at times.
“I thought we made life pretty hard for ourselves in the first half. We weren’t as disciplined as we needed to be and we didn’t finish our sets as well as we needed to.
“We only had 11 genuine sets in the first half to their 23 or 24. But in the second half, I thought at times we played some great stuff, we just didn’t make great decisions and we made a few too many errors.”
The match got off to a bad start from Wakefield’s point of view as skipper Danny Kirmond suffered bangs to the head in consecutive tackles. He stayed down after the second one and needed lengthy treatment before managing to walk off after just 36 seconds.
Widnes scored four tries in the first 25 minutes, as well as wasting a similar number, three of which were through ridiculous mistakes.
They opened the scoring after five minutes when Rhys Hanbury strolled over from Cameron Phelps’ pass.
Gil Dudson dropped the ball just short of the line, following Aaron Heremaia’s 40-20 and then Richard Owen managed to force a similar mistake from Jack Owens. In between, in a rare flash of attacking inspiration from Wildcats, Tim Smith kicked to the corner and Tom Johnstone made a good catch, but was held up over the line by Heremaia. Widnes should have punished that error when, after Jacob Miller had kicked out on the full, Joe Mellor got over at the other end, but he kept going and slid into touch without putting the ball down. That was a huge let-off for Wakefield, who immediately wasted it when Smith, instead of taking a tap, hoofed the 20-metre re-start straight into touch, conceding a penalty.
Alex Gerrard was held up, but Stefan Marsh went over in the same set and then crossed again a few moments later.
Owens missed all three conversions, but scored himself from a pass by Mellor, for a try which Lloyd White improved.
After all that excitement, the game went into a lull, but was illuminated on half-time when Johnstone sailed past Hanbury and Phelps for a brilliant winger’s try, improved by Miller. Wildcats put a nice move together soon after the interval, creating an overlap on Widnes’ left, but Dean Collis could not take Smith’s low pass and moments later they were standing behind their own posts after White scampered over from acting-half and also booted the goal.
Wildcats did have a chance when Owen kicked the corner and Johnstone just failed to make a diving catch, but Matt Ryan prevented Phelps from taking a quick tap and was sin-binned.
Widnes, who were without their most creative player Kevin Brown through illness, were able to walk through Wakefield’s defence at times, but when the hosts did show some commitment it backfired.
Owen smashed a rampaging Willie Isa into touch, but was penalised for a high tackle and Marsh completed his hat-trick in the subsequent set, White again converting. Ryan returned from the bin in time to get on the end of a try-creating pass from Miller, who kicked the goal.
The gap was down to 12 with eight left when Owen put Collis over and Miller landed his third goal, but that was as close as Wakefield got, despite Phelps being sin-binned late on for a professional foul.
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats: Owen, Johnstone, Collis, Lyne, Riley, Miller, T Smith, Scruton, McShane, Molloy, Ryan, Kirmond, Washbrook. Subs Crowther, Godinet, Annakin, Anderson.
Widnes Vikings: Hanbury, Owens, Marsh, Phelps, Ah Van, Heremaia, Mellor, Dudson, White, Gerrard, Clarkson, Galea, Isa. Subs Joseph, Leuluai, Manuokafoa, Whitley.
Referee: Richard Silverwood (Mirfield).