PRE-SEASON favourites for the wooden spoon, Wakefield Trinity Wildcats are emerging as the surprise package in Super League.
Yesterday’s 44-24 victory made it two from two and condemned visitors Hull KR to a second successive defeat.
It was a sweet triumph for Wildcats coach James Webster, who played for and had a spell in charge of Rovers, and for hat-trick heroes Chris Riley and Jacob Miller. Both joined Wakefield after being released by other clubs last term.
The game was still in the balance when Riley touched down on 61, 70 and 72 minutes to end it as a contest.
Miller scored two tries in as many minutes at the end of the first half to give Wakefield a 16-10 interval lead and added a third in the closing seconds.
“Chris Riley’s a great player,” Webster said afterwards. “We are really lucky we were able to get him. I was really surprised last year when Warrington let him come on loan. He was brilliant last year and he’s started this season the same.”
The pacy Miller was released by Hull after failing to solve their half-back problem, but was influential throughout yesterday’s game, in tandem with Tim Smith.
Webster added: “I’m happy for Jacob.
“Things didn’t work out for him at Hull FC and he came here for a chance.
“He’s got a couple of things to work on, but he’s got speed –which we didn’t have last year – and we’re starting to score some tries from good length.”
Of Wakefield’s performance, Webster said: “I thought we kept inviting them back into the game.
“I thought if we put our foot on the pedal from the start we could have blown them away. The game was in the balance until 15 minutes to go and I thought we could have put them away a lot earlier than that.
“The encouraging side of that is we still have a lot of improvement in us.
“Realistically we need to improve still, but I am very happy.”
Rovers led twice in the first half, before Wakefield took control.
Scrum-half Albert Kelly scored his third try in two games when he kicked on the last tackle from inside his own half, Wakefield full-back Craig Hall allowed the ball to bounce and it spun back to the former Gold Coast play-maker, who ran through to touch down unopposed.
That was on seven minutes, but the lead lasted only until the 12th, when Paul McShane stabbed a grubber kick over the line and Matty Ashurst pounced to mark his first Wildcats appearance with a try.
Hall, playing against his former club, kicked the first of his six conversions, but the visitors went ahead for the second time eight minutes before the break when Tyrone McCarthy crossed from first receiver.
Miller then struck twice in as many minutes to give Wakefield a four-point interval advantage.
He snapped up Kelly’s loose pass 40 metres from Rovers’ line and had too much pace for the defence, then he barged over after good work by Tim Smith and Lopini Paea.
Wildcats increased the gap to 10 points eight minutes into the second half when Danny Kirmond dashed through a gap created by Tim Smith’s outstanding pass.
Richard Owen’s break threatened to put Wakefield firmly in the driving seat, but he was slid into touch by Ben Cockayne’s copybook tackle.
In the set from the scrum, Terry Campese and Kelly moved the ball right and Ken Sio went over for his first Rovers try from Darrell Goulding’s pass.
Riley then stepped into the limelight, crossing twice from close range off Reece Lyne’s passes before the centre backed up Pita Godinet’s break to put him in again.
Ryan Bailey scored a debut try for Rovers, Josh Mantellato maintaining his 100 per cent kicking record for the season, but Miller supported a forceful run by Ali Lauitiiti to complete his hat-trick on the final play of the game.
Rovers are still waiting for their first point, following the round one defeat against Leeds.
Hull KR coach Chris Chester said: “I’m extremely disappointed.
“I don’t think Wakefield had to work hard for their tries. We made far too many errors with the ball.
“It’s just not acceptable. We weren’t good enough and Wakefield well deserved the win,” he added.
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats: Hall, Riley, Collis, Lyne, Owen, Miller, T Smith, D Smith, McShane, Scruton, Kirmond, Ashurst, Washbrook. Substitutes: Godinet, Lauitiiti, Anderson, Paea.
Hull KR: Cockaynbe, Mantellato, Salter, Goulding, Sio, Campese, Kelly, Walker, Carlile, Allgood, McCarthy, Horne, Burke. Substitutes: Blair, Green, Bailey, Boudezba.
Referee: T Roby (RFL).