Former captain Paul Wellens marked his first appearance of the season with his 199th Super League try to help injury-hit St Helens maintain their 100 per cent record with a nailbiting win at Wakefield.
Wellens, drafted in for suspended stand-off Travis Burns, opened the scoring with a try that took him level with his former Great Britain team-mate Keith Senior in second place in the Super League tryscoring chart behind only Leeds’ Danny McGuire.
It looked to be in vain when Wakefield stormed back to lead 12-6 and Saints lost three players to injury in six minutes. But the reigning champions demonstrated true grit and determination to regain the ascendancy, although they were hanging on at the end.
Wakefield had their chances to avoid a second successive defeat but at least restored their pride following humiliation at Widnes.
Wellens made the most of a break by Jonny Lomax to score the game’s first try.
Mark Percival added the goal to make it 6-0 and Saints ought to have increased their lead when Jon Wilkin sent Tom Makinson away but the winger held onto the ball with three team-mates unmarked on his outside.
Wakefield equalised against the run of play when stand-off Jacob Miller produced a lovely pick-up to get loose forward Matty Ashurst over for a try which Craig Hall goaled.
As play swung from end to end, Miller and St Helens’ Joe Greenwood both spilled chances before Wakefield centre Reece Lyne put his side in front for the first time.
The former Hull man set up the scoring position with an interception and he got on the end of full-back Craig Hall’s pass to touch down, with Hall kicking his second goal to make it 12-6.
The Wildcats twice went close to increasing their lead within five minutes of the restart, with Lyne and winger Chris Riley having tries disallowed. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook went 50 metres upfield to set up position for a Saints try, with Greenwood going through the scattered defence.
Saints strengthened their grip when Jordan Turner pounced for their next try.
Makinson’s third goal opened up an eight-point lead but Wakefield winger Richard Owen gave his side renewed hope when he finished off some smart work.
Wakefield: Hall, Riley, Collis, Lyne, Owen, Miller, D Smith, T Smith, Washbrook, Scruton, Kirmond, Ashurst, Ryan. Substitutes: Lauitiiti, McShane, Simon, Paea.
St Helens: Lomax, Makinson, Percival, Turner, Swift, Wellens, Wilkin, Walmsley, Roby, Richards, Vea, Greenwood, Flanagan. Substitutes: Masoe, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Thompson, Hohaia.
Referee: R Hicks (RFL).