WITH A little more composure and better discipline, Wakefield Trinity could quite conceivably have produced another shock result at DW Stadium.
A week after stunning in-form Huddersfield Giants, Chris Chester’s side went on the road again and gave title-chasing Wigan Warriors plenty of problems last night.
Ultimately, though, they fell short against opponents who took another step closer to clinching second spot.
Wakefield trailed just 13-10 when full-back Scott Grix was yellow-carded for a dangerous tackle in the 62nd minute.
Any chance of earning that surprise win essentially disappeared then; the visitors had already been down to 12 men in the first half following a harsh sin-binning of Matty Ashurst so were always likely to be low on energy come the end. Indeed, Morgan Escare duly profited with a try that clinched it, although Joe Greenwood’s effort at the death when the West Yorkshire club were back up to 13 gave Shaun Wane’s side gloss they did not really warrant.
Bill Tupou’s try in the 56th minute had got Trinity in touching distance but the in-form centre was then bundled into touch inside his own half in the next set to relieve the pressure.
It was the sort of untimely error that unfortunately held his side back too much last night but their spirit and character could not be questioned as they pushed Wigan all the way.
In terms of character, however, the actions of Dan Sarginson were quite remarkable.
Just days after the sudden death of his younger brother Adam – at the age of just 23 – the Wigan centre showed great courage deciding to play in this Super 8s contest.
The former England international was told by coach Wane to take as much time off as he needed but Sarginson insisted he wanted to play and joined his colleagues in a close huddle as a minute’s silence was impeccably observed before playing his part in this victory.
Trinity trailed only 11-6 at half-time and will wish they had made more of a raft of decent attacking positions.
As it was, their only score of the half came from a defensive set; winger Tom Johnstone intercepted Tommy Leuluai’s pass and showed tremendous pace to race 95m and cross in the 32nd minute for Ryan Hampshire to improve.
It was almost a carbon copy of the score that changed the course of the game a week earlier at Huddersfield and it was important here as it dented Wigan’s 10-0 advantage.
Unfortunately, Chester’s side – who had just seen Ashurst yellow-carded for an alleged crusher tackle – could not add to it before the break despite having at least one prime opportunity.
Their swarming defence caused Wigan to spill coming out of their own 20 but, crucially, Hampshire forced a pass that was never on and winger Ben Jones-Bishop was bundled into touch. Instead, the hosts worked their way up the other end and, after forcing Grix into clearing into touch, Sam Tomkins slotted a drop-goal with the last play of the half.
They had started it with points, too, Oliver Gildart producing a brilliant one-handed finish in the corner after just 82 seconds.
Trinity had kicked off but were penalised for a dangerous tackle in the very first set to gift Wigan position.
Given the impressive manner in which Wane’s side had unpicked leaders St Helens the previous week, you would have been forgiven for thinking they would then march on here and cause Trinity plenty of pain.
However, the visitors responded well to the early setback and, with second-row Pauli Pauli particularly purposeful and Ashurst offering support, they worked their way into the contest.
Hampshire, the Wakefield-born stand-off who started his career at Wigan, threatened with his pace, and Jacob Miller probed well as always.
Nevertheless, despite having plenty of pressure, including three successive sets at one point, they did not have the requisite assuredness to make it pay. Admittedly, they did miss the incisive touch of Kyle Wood, the busy hooker who was out due to a wrist injury suffered at Huddersfield.
That lack of precision was compounded when the hosts soaked up the pressure and immediately headed downfield for Sam Powell to score a relatively soft try, scooting out of dummy-half and benefitting as Wakefield’s defence dozed on their own goalline.
Tomkins improved that 18th minute effort but Trinity’s resolve quickly improved, demonstrated when both Ryan Sutton and Greenwood were held up when attempting to bury over their line.
Wigan’s Willie Isa was needed to produce a crucial tackle on Tupou but a poor Tyler Randell pass meant another chance went begging for Chester’s side.
Tomkins slotted a penalty at the start of the second period following a needless high tackle from Chris Annakin and they always remained in front.
Wigan Warriors: Tomkins; Davies, Isa, Sarginson, Gildart; Williams, Leuluai; Navarrete, Powell, Flower, Bateman, Greenwood, O’Loughlin. Substitutes: Clubb, Escare, Sutton, Hamlin.
Wakefield Trinity: Grix; Jones-Bishop, Lyne, Tupou, Johnstone; Miller, Hampshire; Arona, Randell, Huby, Batchelor, Ashurst, Crowther. Substitutes: Arundel, Pauli, Hirst, Annakin.
Referee: Ben Thaler (Wakefield).