Brian Smith was denied a victory in his first game in charge of Wakefield as Salford captain Harrison Hansen scored his first tries of the season.
Hansen had gone 17 matches without scoring but touched down in each half to help secure a 24-16 triumph in a dour basement clash at Belle Vue that enabled the Red Devils to bring their eight-match losing run to an end.
It was a far from impressive display from Iestyn Harris’ side but it was good enough to condemn the Wildcats to a 15th successive defeat and they are now nine points adrift at the foot of the table.
Smith was forced to field a team lacking six regulars through injury, inaddition to departed overseas duo Dean Collis and Lopini Paea, but had the encouragement of seeing former Leeds forward Ian Kirke make his mark with a third try in only his third appearance for the club.
The return from suspension of Salford’s goalkicking centre Josh Griffin meant the brothers were united for only the second time against their old club but hooker Liam Hood became one of six injury absentees when he pulled out just before kick-off.
The omens were not good and the clash proved to a forgettable one, with even Rangi Chase unable to stamp his class on proceedings.
Wakefield demonstrated their generosity on eight minutes when centre Matt Ryan dropped the ball 20 metres out from the Salford line and full-back Niall Evalds went 60 metres to set up the position for winger Greg Johnson to get scrum-half Theo Fages over for the game’s first try.
A 40-20 kick from Chase enabled the Red Devils to keep the pressure on and it paid off when prop Scott Taylor proved unstoppable from 10 metres out after Logan Tomkins had been held just short of the line.
Wakefield pulled a try back on 18 minutes when loose forward Daniel Smith, one of the home side’s best players, took a pass from his namesake scrum-half Tim to crash over and Joe Arundel added the conversion to make it 12-6.
However, Wakefield generally had little to offer on attack and they fell further behind on 23 minutes when back rower Cory Paterson charged down Smith’s kick and Hansen followed up to score his first try.
Josh Griffin kicked his third goal to make it 18-6 but the Wildcats were back in within three minutes of the re-start when substitute Kirke took Pita Godinet’s pass to power his way over for a second try.
Salford’s indiscipline continued to let them down but the Wildcats were not capable of taking advantage.
Winger Chris Riley got over at the corner but referee Robert Hicks disallowed the try and the visitors immediately worked their way to the other end of the field where Hansen charged over for his second try.
Griffin kicked his fourth goal to stretch his side’s lead to 24-10 but Wakefield skipper Danny Kirmond gave his side renewed hope on the hour when he stretched out of a tackle to plant the ball on the line for their third try.
Arundel kicked a second goal to cut the deficit to eight points but the game petered to a close without any scoring in the final quarter.
Hull KR kept their top eight hopes alive with a much-needed 38-16 win over Widnes at the KC Lightstream Stadium.
Rovers went into the game four points behind the top eight after winning just one of their last seven in Super League.
As for Widnes, this was their second successive defeat following their 25-12 loss at home to Hull FC over a week earlier.
Rovers opened the scoring in the seventh minute, turning defence into attack in the blink of an eye. Kris Welham picked off a poor Widnes pass to make 65 metres before being hauled to the ground. Rovers won back-to-back penalties before Welham backed himself to score in the left hand corner. Josh Mantellato added the extras to give the Robins a 6-0 lead.
The lead lasted seven minutes as the Vikings scored. Kevin Brown’s kick was allowed to bounce menacingly in the in-goal area and Stefan Marsh was in the right place as the right time to ground the loose ball. Jack Owens missed the conversion to leave the Vikings trailing 6-4.
Maurice Blair’s high kick should have been dealt with by Rhys Hanbury, but Welham jumped higher to steal the ball and feed it outside for Mantellato to score. The winger added the extras for a 12-4 lead.
Widnes, needing the win to return to the top eight, were next to score. Kevin Brown finding speed to get to the line on the Vikings’ left hand side to close the gap. Owens added the extras to make it 12-10 in Rovers’ favour.
It was KR’s turn to score and they duly obliged by again going to their left hand side. Mantellato was on hand to finish a flowing move to extend his side’s advantage, however, he was unable to add the conversion.
Trailing 16-10, Widnes fell further behind in Rovers’ very next set. Hooker John Boudebza worked the opening brilliantly before handing the ball off to Albert Kelly to finish in style from 60 metres. Mantellato added the easy conversion as Rovers extended their lead to 22-10.
Rovers still had more to give before the hooter brought an end to the first half. Ken Sio finished a move on the right hand side to emphasis their dominance in the first 40 minutes. Mantellato missed the conversion but Rovers held a healthy 26-10 lead. It could have been increased before the players turned around but Mantellato missed a long range penalty after the half-time hooter.
It took only five minutes of the second half for Rovers to go further in front when Graeme Horne superbly beat his defender and slipped the ball outside for Sio to score his second of the game. Kelly took over the kicking duties from Mantellato who was stretchered off moments earlier unsuccessfully going for the line. Kelly converted for a 32-10 lead.
Chris Dean’s try turned out to be nothing more than a consolation try as Rovers ended the game on top. In the 67th minute, Sio completed his hat-trick with Kelly’s conversion making the final score 38-16 to the Robins, who moved to within one point of the Vikings.
Huddersfield overcame a 13-6 half-time deficit to mark captain Danny Brough’s 400th career appearance with a 30-19 win over Warrington in a match marred by four sin-bins for repeated fighting.
Stand-off Gareth O’Brien had earlier starred for the visitors, scoring a try, adding two conversions and kicking a drop goal as the Wolves had the better of the first half.
Jodie Broughton’s score reduced the deficit soon after the interval and, although Ben Harrison swiftly restored Warrington’s seven-point cushion, the Giants hit back with tries from Jermaine McGillvary (two) and Jared Simpson and two Jamie Ellis drop goals to seal a first home win over the Wolves since April 2011.
Daryl Clark had opened the scoring on five minutes, with Jake Connor replying after a mix-up between Richie Myler and Joel Monaghan.
Brough converted to continue his record of scoring in every match since February 13 - a run now stretching to 18 games.
O’Brien’s converted try and drop goal made it 13-6 at the end of a tepid opening half, which provided no indication of the fireworks to come after the break.
Broughton dived over on 45 minutes and, as the Giants celebrated cutting the deficit to three points, Eorl Crabtree and Chris Bridge squared up.
It led to a mass brawl involving all 26 players that saw referee Phil Benthan dish out yellow cards to Brough and Warrington prop Anthony England.
Substitute England was so incensed he refused to leave and had to be pulled away by a team water-carrier.
He and Brough - the worst offenders in the fighting - also squared up on the touchline after their dismissals.
Giants scrum-half Ellis held his nerve after a delay to land the conversion in goal-kicker Brough’s absence and make the score 13-12.
But home joy was short-lived when a defensive blunder allowed Warrington to take back control of the game.
A Giants player coughed up the ball in a crowd of players on his own try-line on 48 minutes and Harrison pounced for a close-range converted score.
McGillvary set up a grandstand finish with a converted try on 60 minutes - with again only O’Brien’s drop goal the difference.
Academy product Jared Simpson, who scored on his debut last week against Wigan, then stepped up to the mark.
When McGillvary’s break from deep was help up, the Giants swung play to the other flank in a flowing move finished off by the 19-year-old.
Brough converted and then Ellis landed two drop goals in as many minutes to make it 26-19.
In between there were further flare-ups between the players, which ended in another mass brawl after McGillvary scored his second try of the match on 76 minutes.
The fight appeared to start when a Giants players seemingly punchced an opponent while he was on the ground.
Connor and Clark were sin-binned for their roles in the affair.