RESURGENT WAKEFIELD Trinity climbed above Leeds Rhinos to sixth in Betfred Super League after out-classing Wigan Warriors 32-16 at Mobile Rocket Stadium, Belle Vue, tonight.
It was Trinity’s third win in four league games and they are only four points adrift of the top-four ahead of tonight’s fixtures. After a weekend off, Wakefield were better in every department and full value for their win.
Trinity have a good home record against Wigan and clearly fancied their chances against a team who were knocked out of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup five days earlier and spent the week dealing with the fall-out from Joel Tomkins’ well-publicised drunken antics, which led to him being dropped from the side.
With Jacob Miller thriving behind a dominant pack, led by David Fifita and Pauli Pauli, Wakefield were on top from the start and Wigan’s only good spells came in the final 10 minutes of each half.
Winger Ben Jones-Bishop had a fine game and scored the opening try on eight minutes after Tyler Randell, Justin Horo, Ryan Hampshire and Max Jowitt shifted the ball right.
Nine minutes later Bill Tuopu carved out a half-chance for Miller. He was tackled high by Romain Navarette, sparking a skirmish between several players and once order was restored Hampshire – who also played well – took the two.
Wigan conceded the first seven penalties of the game and were reduced to 12 men after the fifth of them when Thomas Leuluai took Horo out off the ball and was sin-binned. In the set from the penalty, Matty Ashurst surged towards the line and then Tupou nipped over from acting-half, Hampshire converting.
The hosts tapped a penalty in front of the posts, then immediately received another, for a high shot by Liam Farrell on Miller and Hampshire’s kick made it 14-0 on 26 minutes. Trinity would have been out of sight had Miller not knocked on after dummying into space three minutes later, but Wigan received three successive penalties in the final 11 minutes of the half and that gave them a leg up into the game.
Six minutes before the interval some nice footwork took Gabe Hamlin over for his maiden Wigan try – and their first score in 184 minutes of rugby – and Sam Tomkins’ conversion made it 14-6 at half-time.
It was ‘game on’ at that stage, but Trinity hit Wigan with a sucker punch three minutes into the second half. A penalty put the visitors on the attack, but Jones-Bishop intercepted Sean O’Loughlin’s pass and raced 90 metres for his second try, which Hampshire improved to restore the 14-point gap.
With 22 minutes left a kick by Miller, who ran the show for Trinity, was fumbled on the ground by Willie Isa and Tom Johnstone picked up, then touched down one-handed at the corner. There was no goal, but Wigan were caught offside in front of their own posts in the next set and Hampshire’s made it 24-6.
Tom Davies had a try ruled out for a hand in touch before scoring a fine solo effort with eight minutes left, Tomkins converting, then Morgan Escare crossed in the next set.
That made it 26-16, but Trinity sealed a deserved win when Pauli barged over from close-range with two minutes left and Hampshire’s conversion completed the scoring. The final penalty count was 11-7 in Wakefield’s favour.
There was a minute’s silence before kick-off in memory of Wakefield legend harold Poynton who died earlier this week, aged 82. Poynton, who captained Trinity to the Championship in 1967 and 68, played 319 games for Wakefield from 1958-1969.
Wakefield Trinity: Jowitt, Jones-Bishop, Lyne, Tupou, Johnstone, Miller, Hampshire, Fifita, Randell, England, Ashurst, Kirmond, Horo. Subs Wood, Hirst, Pauli, Arona.
Wigan Warriors: S Tomkins, Davies, Sarginson, Gildart, Mullen, Williams, Powell, Clubb, Leuluai, Navarette, Bateman, Farrell, O’Loughlin. Subs Isa, Escare, Field, Hamlin.
Referee: James Child (Dewsbury).