Where next for Wakefield Trinity Wildcats was the question after their disastrous season slumped to a new low.
Wakefield, cast adrift at the bottom of First Utility Super League and on an 11-match losing run in that competition, were ruthlessly torn apart by Leigh Centurions in the second half of a dramatic Ladbrokes Challenge Cup sixth-round tie at Belle Vue.
Leigh are the Kingstone Press Championship champions and leaders, had won their previous 24 games and beat Super League Salford Red Devils in the previous round, so their 36-30 victory was not exactly a shock.
But Wakefield led 24-6 at half-time and seemed on course for a victory which could have turned their campaign around, before they capitulated in the final 40 minutes.
“We fell in a heap,” was coach James Webster’s summary after the game.
He reflected: “We threw it away. They had 24 sets in the second half and we had nine. It just sums up our season. If you put any pressure on Wakefield they will crumble and eventually we did.
“If you put two or three sets on our line, you’re going to get some points.”
Poor discipline was at the root of Wakefield’s collapse. Captain Danny Kirmond was sin-binned early in the second half, along with Leigh’s former Wildcats winger Liam Kay and the visitors scored two tries – by Jonny Pownall and Bob Beswick – while the pair were kicking their heels on the sidelines.
Ryan Brierley crafted a fine try for Tom Armstrong and then had one ruled out for offside by the video referees.
Wakefield regained the lead in the set from the resulting penalty, Paul McShane sending Jon Molloy over and Craig Hall adding his fourth goal, but tries by Sam Hopkins and ex-Wakefield man Oliver Wilkes sent Leigh through.
Joe Arundel crossed twice in the first half and Chris Riley and Nick Scruton also touched down for Wakefield, Leigh replying through Brierley’s try and the first of Martyn Ridyard’s six goals.
Webster’s demeanor after the game suggested he does not expect to be in his current role for much longer, but he insisted he is keen to carry on.
“We’ll see what happens,” he said.
“We’re a team that’s just not able to compete with other teams, whether it be through ability or some attitude and some people probably not wanting to fulfil all their commitments.
“We need to sort that out and we need to make a decision what we’re going to do.”
He added: “We’ve got no money to spend. I’ve tried to offload some people for a long time, but nobody wants them so we’re not really able to change our squad.”
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats: Hall, Owen, Collis, Arundel, Riley, Miller, T Smith. Scruton, McShane, Anderson, Washbrook, Kirmond, Kavanagh. Substitutes: Lauitiiti, Paea, Molloy, Simon.
Leigh Centurions: McNally, Pownall, Platt, Armstrong, Kay, Ridyard, Brierley, Moimoi, Beswick, Hock, Goulden, Dixon, Acton. Substitutes: Haggerty, Hopkins, Wilkes, Barlow.
Referee: B Thaler (Wakefield).