YOU would never have guessed Josh Mantellato had squeezed in a quick trip to Australia and back.
The prolific Hull KR winger was absent for the club’s 60-0 embarrassment at Wigan a week ago having returned home to be best man at his brother’s wedding.
However, there were few signs of the 20,000-mile journey sapping his prolific powers last night as the Italian international scored two tries and kicked seven goals to heap yet more misery on abject Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.
The troubled West Yorkshire side now sit rock bottom having lost 11 successive Super League games.
Staggeringly, they have conceded 40 points or more in each of their last eight league games; this is no preparation for the Middle Eights whichever way you look at it.
Hull KR, piloted perfectly by captain Terry Campese who returned from injury, are now up to seventh and had some strong showings here from creative scrum-half Albert Kelly and Ben Cockayne before the full-back had to depart dazed following a Matt Ryan high tackle.
It is hard to read too much into this performance, however, given the standard of opposition was so poor. But Rovers’ head coach Chris Chester said: “We’d done a lot of soul-searching through the early part of the week and wanted to put a few wrongs right. We did that. It was a tough ask, too, for Josh (Mantellato).
“He got off the plane late Sunday night, came in to see the boys Monday and only had the team run Wednesday.
“I thought he carried the ball really strong. We missed him last Friday, but we defended a lot better. There’s still a lot to improve on as they broke our line a couple of times and we struggled with their offload.
“But the boys worked really hard during the week and again (last night) so we got the performance.”
James Webster’s side have not picked up any league points since beating Hull KR on February 15, but the latest capitulation did not look on the cards following a competitive opening 25 minutes when they trailed just 8-6.
Rovers had opened the scoring with tries from Kris Welham and Mantellato’s first, but when the former spilled a pass, it allowed Joe Arundel the chance for his first league try in Trinity colours, Craig Hall converting on his first return to former club Rovers.
But Cockayne slipped Hall’s tame tackle attempt to set up Kelly before Campese sped out of dummy-half and fired a perfect long pass for Mantellato’s brace.
Wakefield, who had impressive prop Scott Anderson back for his first game since February, struggled to get to grips with Chester’s side in the second period, though.
Kelly’s kicking and Ken Sio – who was bright after switching from centre to full-back for Cockayne – were both to the fore while Kieran Dixon had some nervous moments on the wing but also came up with two tries and a couple of breaks.
Graeme Horne also scored from Kelly’s grubber although Sio was fortunate to stay on after a blatant shoulder charge on Arundel.
Moments later, the Australian was speeding in for his 10th try of the year after finishing off Aaron Ollett’s break, fashioned again by Kelly’s inside pass.
John Boudebza and a fresh-faced Tyrone McCarthy, after shaving off his beard in aid of the Danny Jones fund, both scored their first tries in Rovers’ colours as well as they rubbed salt in at the end.
Webster revealed Ali Lauititii pulled out late on with a hamstring injury and they could not even find a doctor to give Danny Washbrook a pain-killing injection before the Hull FC medic stepped up on Wednesday to help out.
“In parts we competed alright,” he insisted. “But in other parts we were absolute miles off.
“Our defence is a problem with teams hanging in there long enough we then leak points.
“We just aren’t good enough at the moment to defend that period.”
Hull KR: Cockayne; Dixon, Sio, Welham, Mantellato; Campese, Kelly; Walker, Boudebza, Tilse, Larroyer, Horne, McCarthy. Substitutes: Green, Ollett, Cox, Donaldson.
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats: Miller; Johnstone, Lynne, Arundel, Riley; Hall, T Smith; Scruton, McShane, Kavanagh, Ryan, Washbrook, D Smith. Substitutes: Godinet, Anderson, Simon, Molloy.
Referee: J Cobb (St Helens).