HE might be getting a little tetchy in his old age, but Danny McGuire still has the golden ability to be in the right place at the right time.
Hull KR’s 36-year-old veteran proved that when he popped up to score the only try of a tight, weather-dominated battle at Wakefield Trinity.
His 74th-minute touchdown was enough to secure a precious victory and came after McGuire, Rovers’ acting captain, had been sin-binned for dissent for a second successive game.
Wakefield had looked the most likely winners for much of the match, having gone in at the interval all-square after playing against the conditions in the opening 40 minutes.
They also had the better chances in the second half and led three times in all, but were left to reflect on two controversial decisions by the officials.
Firstly, referee Tom Grant ruled Tom Johnstone had been in touch before getting the ball down from Jacob Miller’s kick.
And Wakefield coach Chris Chester was adamant following the game that McGuire’s score, soon afterwards, should not have stood due to an earlier knock-on from a kick by Craig Hall.
Until then it appeared the match would become only the second tryless fixture in Super League’s history, following Salford’s 5-2 home win over Harlequins 12 years ago.
A heavy pitch, driving rain at times and gale force wind meant there was little prospect of flowing rugby, but Rovers coach Tim Sheens was proud of his team’s effort.
They did not concede a point when down to 12 men and, already without several first-choice forwards, Rovers lost substitute James Greenwood to a knee injury in the first half.
Initial fears were he had suffered anterior cruciate ligament damage, which would rule him out for the rest of the season.
“No coach wouldn’t be happy with that effort,” Sheens said. “We are down in numbers and down in size.
“We have got some people missing from the squad so to stay with them, particularly in that second half and come up with a winning try, it was a great result.”
Rovers have climbed two places to sixth in the table and Sheens added: “A win was super, super important.
“We needed to stay in the mix. We got off our goal line and defended pretty well.
“We have been susceptible on the edges, but (yesterday) we shut that down – though the conditions played a part in keeping the score down from both sides’ point of view.”
Sheens admitted Hull KR struggled to handle Trinity’s big forwards, but felt closing out dangerman Bill Tupou was a crucial factor in their third win of the year. Of McGuire’s yellow card, he said: “I had a talk to him.
“He felt he approached (the referee) in the right vein.
“It will be something I am going to take up with the RFL.”
McGuire was sin-binned nine minutes before the break after Danny Brough had kicked Trinity ahead with a penalty goal.
That was Wakefield’s fourth successive penalty, Rovers conceded another in the next set and were then marched 10 metres when Josh Drinkwater complained.
Even so the visitors were level before the break through a long-range penalty kick by Hall, who had earlier missed with a similar effort from half way.
Brough added two more points early in the second half, but opted for a tap when Rovers conceded yet another penalty and were placed on a team warning after 56 minutes. Within seconds they were penalised again, but referee Grant kept the yellow card in his pocket.
Hall and Brough then exchanged penalty goals to set up the late controversy. Wakefield coach Chris Chester paid tribute to his former team’s tenacity, but felt Trinity were hard done by.
“It wasn’t a try,” Chester insisted of the winning score.
“The Tom Johnstone one, he has got the ball down – it’s a perfectly good try.
“I have always been a big advocate of video referees at every game.
“Those kind of decisions you have got to get right.”
Despite that Chester admitted his team needed to be better, particularly in the second half.
He said: “There was nothing between the teams, it was a poor game.
“The conditions played a massive part.
“I was fairly confident at half-time, with the wind in our favour, but it seemed to die down in the second half.
“I was disappointed with a few things in the second half, probably our management of the game needed to be a bit better.
“They’ve come here and played some footy and we were probably guilty of going into our shell a little bit. Hull KR played well, they moved the ball well and good on them.”
Wakefield Trinity: Hampshire, Jones-Bishop, Lyne, Tupou, Johnstone, Miller, Brough, Fifita, Wood, King, Batchelor, Kirmond, Arona. Substitutes: Horo, Pauli, Kopczak, Hirst.
Hull KR: Dagger, Oakes, Keinhorst, Vaivai, Hall, McGuire, Drinkwater, Masoe, Lee, Jewitt, Hauraki, Linnett, Lawler. Substitutes: Garbutt, Greenwood, Addy, Atkin.
Referee: T Grant (Leeds).