WAKEFIELD TRINITY suffered late heartbreak when they were pipped 18-16 by visitors St Helens last night.
Trinity led from the 12th minute and looked set to climb into third place in the Betfred Super-8s table, but Mark Percival’s conversion – with 90 seconds left – of a Jonny Lomax try left them shattered.
Trinity remain fourth, but they are just one point ahead of Wigan Warriors – who visit third-placed Hull tonight – and Saints.
Wakefield are away to Hull next week and play host to Wigan in their final game the following weekend.
Their fate is still in their own hands, but it is a much tougher task now than seemed likely for most of the game.
Trinity did not deserve to lose and will be cursing the Belle Vue metalwork after Liam Finn twice saw a kick bounce away off an upright.
The second occasion was with a penalty goal, which would have made it 18-12 and secured at least a point, moments before Lomax crossed.
Saints’ third try was a disaster for Trinity. Scott Grix failed to react to Percival’s low kick and though Regan Grace could not ground the ball, Lomax did – the touchdown being confirmed by video official James Child after referee Ben Thaler had indicated a try.
Percival kept his nerve to add the extras from just to the left of the posts and that was the first time Trinity had been behind.
Grix had created the opening score after 12 minutes when he kicked to the corner, Tommy Makinson let the ball bounced and Bill Tupou touched down.
Finn’s coversion hit a post, but he took the two on 20 minutes after a foul by Luke Thompson on Jacob Miller.
Four minutes later Danny Richardson landed a 40-20 and then sent Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook over for a try which Percival improved.
Tupou scored a brilliant second try on the half-hour, skinning Aussie superstar Ben Barba near his own line before racing the full length of the field and Finn’s goal made it 12-6.
Matty Ashurst almost barged over, but referee Thaler thought he had been grounded just short and Child agreed.
That – on 36 minutes – was the start of a busy few spell for the officials. Following a Grix break, a tremendous tackle from Makinson kept Joe Arundel out before the Thaler/Child combination denied Dean Hadley from Finn’s kick.
On the final play of the half Morgan Knowles went close for Saints, the ball came out in Ashurst’s tackle and Thaler and Child ruled a loose carry.
Trinity were reduced to 12 men just four minutes into the second half when Dean Hadley was sin-binned for dangerous contact on Percival.
Trinity booted a penalty goal soon afterwards after the ball was stolen from David Fifita, but Saints clawed their way back into the contest with 17 minutes left when Theo Fages darted over from Alex Walmsley’s offload and the goal from Percival made it a two-point ball game.
Barba should have made more of a break moments later, but passed – forward – instead of going for the line.
Finn landed another penalty after Jon Wilkin stole the ball from Keegan Hirst with 11 minutes left, but his miss – off a post – moments later led to the game’s dramatic finale, keeping Saints’ semi-final hopes alive when all seemed lost.
Wakefield Trinity: Grix, Jones-Bishop, Lyne, Arundel, Tupou, Miller, Finn, England, Randell, Hirst, Kirmond, Ashurst, Arona. Subs Hadley, Annakin, Huby, Fifita.
St Helens: Barba, Makinson, Lomax, Percival, Grace, Fages, Richardson, Douglas, Roby, Thompson, Taia, Knowles, Wilkin. Subs Walmsley, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Peyroux, Lees.
Referee: Ben Thaler (Wakefield).