THE BEAST from the East bounced back to gain a revenge victory which left Wakefield Trinity out in the cold.
Two weeks ago a massive effort from Trinity staff and volunteers defeated the big freeze, ensuring the Betfred Super League visit of Huddersfield Giants could go ahead, two days later than originally scheduled.
But the snow returned with a vengeance on Saturday evening and, despite the home clash with Widnes Vikings kicking-off on time, the weather was the victor as the game was called off after 27 minutes, when Trinity led 2-0.
On a snow covered pitch – with an orange ball, but Trinity wearing a white kit – Liam Finn kicked the hosts ahead before a sudden blizzard produced a virtual whiteout and referee Liam Moore had no choice other than to take the players off.
It was a cruel blow for Trinity chairman Michael Carter, who – helped by club staff and volunteers – had grabbed a shovel and got stuck in clearing the lines before the game.
The round six fixture will now have to be rescheduled, with the international weekend in June the most likely date. RFL operational rules say fans should be offered half-price admission for the rearranged fixture if a game is called off up to or during half-time.
But in a “gesture of goodwill” Carter has said fans in the 4,002 crowd who retained their ticket stub will be entitled to free entry for the rematch. Trinity captain Danny Kirmond had no complaints about the decision to begin the game, or the one to call it off. He said: “It was good to try and get it on.
“At the start of the game it wasn’t too bad and a lot of work had gone in by people to try and get it on, but ultimately it would probably have been dangerous to carry on.
“It did get pretty bad out there, when the wind got up you couldn’t really see too much and I think the ref made the right call.”
Those comments were echoed by Wakefield coach Chris Chester. He said: “We had no issues, I think the match commissioner and the referee made the right call [to start the game].
“We certainly weren’t expecting that amount of snow to all of a sudden come in that last five minutes. I have never seen weather like that before. It was the right decision to call it off and the right decision to play the game.”
Of Carter’s efforts before kick-off, Chester said: “We all chip in here, it’s a team effort.
“We tried hard to get the game on. It’s not ideal having to reschedule the game, but we’ll fit it in somewhere.”
Match commissioner David Milburn explained the reasoning behind Saturday’s events.
“At 6pm the pitch was playable,” he said.
“I spoke to the referee and said if it gets to the position where you cannot see, bring the players off – which is what he did.
“It was playable, the ground was soft – no players got injured and I feel justified I made the right decision and the referee made the right decision to bring them off.
“We couldn’t see the players, the medical staff couldn’t and it was in their best interests we brought them all off.”
Wakefield Trinity: Grix, Caton-Brown, Lyne, Tupou, T Johnstone, Miller, Finn, England, Randell, Huby, Kirmond, Ashurst, Arona. Subs Hampshire, Pauli, Horo, Hirst.
Widnes Vikings: Hanbury, Marsh, Inu, Runciman, Chamberlain, Mellor, Craven, Houston, Heremaia, Burke, Dean, Whitley, Olbison. Subs J Johnstone, Walker, E Chapelhow, Wilde.
Referee: Liam Moore (Wigan).