EASTER is a time for fresh starts and it felt like a new era at Belle Vue yesterday as Wakefield Trinity Wildcats defeated Huddersfield Giants 36-22 in Chris Chester’s first game as coach.
And encouragingly for Wakefield, two products from their academy – Max Jowitt and Tom Johnstone – were stars of the show.
It was a deserved second victory of the season for Wakefield, who climbed to 10th in Super League.
Huddersfield, with only one victory under their belt, are now bottom and there was little sign of them having the tools to turn their campaign around.
The visitors gave a debut to Ryan Brierley, who started at scrum-half, but – not surprisingly considering he had only moved from Leigh on Sunday – he had little impact.
Huddersfield led briefly early on. Jermaine McGillvary, Super League’s top try scorer last year, has continued to impress this season in a struggling team.
The England winger opened the scoring after nine minutes from Leroy Cudjoe’s pass and had the presence of mind to narrow the angle, making Danny Brough’s conversion a formality.
Wakefield had already missed a chance when Liam Finn kicked between the posts and Jacob Miller got to the ball, but fumbled as he tried to touch down.
With Anthony England setting a big lead, Wakefield played with greater freedom and confidence than in previous matches this year and their offloads caused Huddersfield problems.
Ben Jones-Bishop remained on the casualty list, so England academy prospect Jowitt was given an opportunity in his specialist full-back role. He is a player Wakefield have high hopes for and it was his fine long pass which sent another young talent Johnstone diving over at the corner after 14 minutes.
Jowitt later showed his defensive qualities with a try-saving tackle on McGillvary after the England winger had burst through the Wakefield line from deep in his own half.
Huddersfield looked hesitant at the back and a series of mistakes near their own line allowed the home team to take a grip on the game.
After 26 minutes Miller kicked over the line, Brough fumbled and Mikey Sio fell on the ball to edge Wakefield ahead.
Huddersfield got away with a similar incident soon afterwards when full-back Jared Simpson dithered following Finn’s grubber and Nick Scruton touched down.
Referee Gareth Hewer consulted the in-goal judge and he indicated the ball had already gone dead, earning a pat on the back from Brough.
That was a warning, but it wasn’t heeded. Moments later Stuart Howarth kicked to the corner, Simpson let the ball bounce and Reece Lyne nipped past him to touch down.
A third Finn goal, his second off the touchline, made it 18-6, but eight points in two minutes before half-time got Huddersfield back into the contest. Craig Huby, making his first appearance of the season after recovering from a hand injury, combined with Brough to send Jake Connor storming over; Brough converted and then landed a penalty after the hooter had sounded to cut the gap to just four points.
Brough made a try-saving tackle on Sio and Joe Arundel was held up over the line before Huddersfield levelled with an unconverted try on 49 minutes, Connor touching down through some weak defence from the stand-off’s pass. At the end of the third quarter Jowitt finished superbly, from Miller’s pass and Finn’s fourth goal made it 24-18.
Wakefield’s Mickael Simon and opponent Larne Patrick were sin-binned following a skirmish and almost immediately Brough picked out an unmarked Aaron Murphy with a long pass to cut the gap to just two. That could have set up a tense finish, but a moment of magic from Johnstone calmed Wakefield’s nerves.
Murphy hurled a pass at Finn near the home line and the scrum-half slipped the ball to the winger, who accelerated and dashed clear.
Finn added a sixth goal to complete the scoring two minutes from time after Scruton had crossed from a Scott Moore pass.
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats: Jowitt, Lyne, Arundel, Gibson, Johnstone, Miller, Finn, Scruton , Moore, England, Kirmond, Ashurst, Sio, Substitutes: Simon, Annakin, Howarth, Molloy.
Huddersfield Giants: Simpson, McGillvary, Cudjoe, Connor, Murphy, Brough, Brierley, Huby, Wood, Rapira, Ta’ai, Lawrence, Hinchcliffe. Substitutes: Patrick, Johnson, Leeming, Mason.
Referee: G Hewer (Whitehaven).