A WHOLEHEARTED effort was not enough for Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, who suffered their third successive defeat yesterday, 24-18 at improving Salford Red Devils.
Trinity’s downfall was their lack of a killer touch close to the opposition’s line, as coach James Webster accepted in his post-match comments.
“It is a high standard of rugby league we are playing, against good teams,” reflected Webster.
“If you are not able to execute plays correctly you’re not going to get enough chances to win games.
“We shot ourselves in the foot. Salford played well, but we were a bit short, yet again.”
That was evident from the opening exchanges. Wakefield crossed the Salford line three times in the first 16 minutes, but only one counted.
Reece Lyne’s pass to Chris Riley was ruled forward, Danny Washbrook knocked on just short from what turned out to be a forward pass off Craig Hall and then Lyne stretched over, but referee Matt Thomason disallowed the touchdown for a double movement.
The try the visitors had been threatening finally came when Washbrook split the defence and Jacob Miller was in support to score. Hall tagged on the extras, but the advantage was short-lived.
A penalty in the re-start set gave Wakefield an opportunity to double their lead, but Tim Smith’s pass close to the Salford line was intercepted by Rangi Chase. The former Castleford and England stand-off made it into Wakefield territory and Greg Johnson, who was in support, did the rest.
Johnson had a brief spell at Wakefield and another of the former Wildcats in Salford’s ranks, Josh Griffin, landed the first of his four conversions.
That was on 19 minutes and Salford went ahead four minutes later, following back-to-back penalties. They tapped the second of them in front of the posts and were rewarded when Weller Hauraki crossed for his first try since his off-season move from Castleford, Chase providing the final pass.
Wakefield winger Richard Owen came up with a terrific tackle, assisted by Dean Collis and Hall, to hold Josh Griffin up over the line, but on balance the visitors were unfortunate to trail 12-6 at the interval.
Chase produced one of Super League’s most memorable flashes of skill in Salford’s previous home game, against Hull, when his pass to himself and round the back offload created a try for Josh Griffin.
He did something similar in the early moments, but this time it went wrong to comical effect. Hall could not take Michael Dobson’s high kick and Chase gathered with three team-mates inside him. He looked towards them, but flicked out a blind pass the other way and the ball went to ground before being snapped up by the grateful Wakefield defence.
He ended yesterday’s game having provided the final pass for three of Salford’s four tries and scored the other one himself.
Chase’s two assists in the first half were relatively straightforward, but he produced some magic to edge the home team further ahead just after the break, dummying twice to leave Mickael Simon flat out on the ground as he went between the posts untouched. Chase had also begun the move with a brilliant overhead catch to defuse a kick behind his own line.
Had he managed to hold on to an attempted interception, with a clear run to the line, it would have been game over, but Paul McShane got Wakefield back into the contest with half an hour left when he spotted a gap and nipped over from acting-half, Hall converting.
It was the 300th game of 37-year-old Salford prop Adrian Morley’s Super League career and he almost crowned it with a try, racing 50 metres before being tackled just short of the line. He had to settle for an assist instead as, with Wakefield’s defence struggling to get back, Chase threw out a long pass to Junior Sa’u, who crossed unopposed.
Morley made his senior debut for Leeds in 1995. Injury problems in Wakefield’s pack meant James Webster had to call-up England academy forward Jordan Crowther, who was born in 1997.
Before the game Lopini Paea joined a pack casualty list which already included Ian Kirke, Matty Ashurst and Scott Anderson and both Pita Godinet and Danny Kirmond left the action due to injuries.
Despite that – and inspired by a huge effort from Ali Lauitiiti – Wakefield plugged away spiritedly after Sa’u’s try, but couldn’t find a way through Salford’s enthusiastic defence until three minutes from time, when Hall gathered Tim Smith’s kick for a touchdown which he also converted and by then it was too late.
“We are just 10/15/20 per cent short in a lot of areas at the moment,” said Webster.
Salford Red Devils: Locke, Jones-Bishop, J Griffin, Sa’u, Johnson, Chase, Dobson, Taylor, Lee, Morley, Hansen, Hauraki, J Walne. Substitutes: Fages, D Griffin, Tasi, Walton.
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats: Hall, Riley, Collis, Lyne, Owen, Miller, T Smith, Scruton, McShane, D Smith, Ryan, Kirmond, Washbrook. Substitutes: Godinet, Lauitiiti, Crowther, Simon.
Referee: M Thomason (RFL).