Wakefield 36 Wigan Warriors 28: Departing Tautai gives Warriors a taste of future in Trinity’s win

Richard Moore celebrates his try. Wakefield Trinity Wildcats 36 v. Wigan Warriors 28 - First Utility Super League XIX Round 17 - 22nd June 2014
Richard Moore celebrates his try. Wakefield Trinity Wildcats 36 v. Wigan Warriors 28 - First Utility Super League XIX Round 17 - 22nd June 2014
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Taulima Tautai gave Wakefield a reminder of what they will be losing as he turned in a man-of-the match display against his future employers Wigan.

Heading into the game as Super League leaders, the giant Australian led a Trinity display full of passion and skill which stunned Wigan.

The lead changed hands five times in an aborbing encounter, only for Wakefield to clinch victory late on.

“It was an exciting game,” said Trinity coach James Webster. “I thought the boys played really tough and gutsed it out.

“Wigan came at us for the full 80 minutes. I thought it was a decent game of rugby if you’re a neutral, and you will have enjoyed it.

“But as a Wigan or a Wakefield supporter there was a couple of moments where it was heart-in-your-mouth sort of stuff.”

Wakefield welcomed back utility back Reece Lyne, following a toe injury, while the a youthful-looking Warriors – who started top after their midweek win over Widnes Vikings – were without former Bradford Bulls youngster John Bateman with a rib injury.

The opening 40 minutes saw Wakefield recover from 18-6 down to go in at half-time leading 24-18.

Wakefield broke the deadlock, captain Danny Kirmond – one of several Trinity players sporting a beard – crashed over, with Paul Sykes adding the conversion.

Within minutes though, Wigan were level. A surging run through the middle from George Williams was spotted by scrum-half Matty Smith and the Warriors hooker breezed through from 40 metres out.

Matty Smith levelled the scores with the subsequent conversion, before adding the extras after Liam Farrell was on Jack Murphy’s shoulder to finish off another long-range try.

Wigan had responded like a sleeping dog being poked with a stick, adding their third try in seven minutes soon after.

Once more, Matty Smith was the instigator, his lofted kick evading the Trinity defence as Anthony Gelling leaped highest to snatch the ball. Smith maintained his 100 per cent kicking record to stretch the visitors’ lead to 18-6.

Liam Farrell was put on report for a bad tackle on the pony-tailed Tautai – who will join Wigan next season – and that seemed to spark up Wakefield, who drove downfield before Tim Smith finished off with a try.

Sykes further reduced the arrears to 18-12 with the conversion, before levelling matters on 34 minutes with his third kick following Owen’s try.

Pita Godinet broke down the right-hand flank, before feeding winger Owen who sped away to the line for Trinity’s third try of the opening half.

And there was still time for Wakefield to snatch the lead before half-time when Godinet played in fellow substitute Richard Moore, who bulldozed through the Warriors leaky defence.

Sykes had the final touch of the opening 40 minutes, booting the conversion to make it 24-18.

Tautai looked like he was through for a try at the start of the second half – following a jinking run from Godinet – but referee George Stokes pulled play back for obstruction.

Centre Matt Ryan then dropped the ball with the Wigan line at his mercy, and the visitors should really have been punished.

But, as so often happens, when one side fails to take their chances, the opposition make them pay as Farrell ran in his 12th try in Super League, Matty Smith levelling at 24-24. A foul on Tim Smith by Hughes gifted Wakefield a 56th-minute penalty, which Sykes converted to nudge the hosts back in front 26-24.

Gelling and Ryan confronted each other, and with home fans demanding action, the officials awarded the penalty against Wakefield.

Trinity supporters were furious, as it looked like Gelling had landed a couple of punches, and their mood was not lifted when Dan Sarginson rubbed salt in the wound with a subsequent try for Wigan. The only surprise was Matty Smith failed to add the extras.

But with the return of the impressive Tautai to the action from the bench, Wakefield stepped up a gear. Paul McShane fed Danny Washbrook who crashed over for a try, but Sykes spoiled his perfect kicking record when he somehow sliced the ball from in front of the posts.

Leading 30-28 entering the final 10 minutes, the Wildcats just needed to keep calm and do nothing silly. But it was Wigan’s Matty Smith who seemed to lose his head, striking Ryan to gift the hosts a penalty and Lyne made them pay with an 76th-minute try in the corner.

Sykes kicked the conversion from wide on the left to give Trinity an impressive win.

Wakefield: Mathers, Owen, Ryan, Lyne, Riley, Sykes, T Smith, Anderson, McShane, Scruton, Gilmour, Kirmond, Washbrook. Substitutes: Godinet, Tautai, Moore, D Smith.

Wigan Warriors: Sarginson, Charnley, Goulding, Gelling, Murphy, Powell, M Smith, Taylor, Williams, Flower, Hughes, L Farrell, Burke. Substitutes: James, C Farrell, Sutton, Wright.

Referee: G Stokes (RFL).