The result ended Rhinos’ eight-game losing run in Betfred Super League, but leaves them three points behind Trinity, Catalans Dragons and Huddersfield Giants with four left to play for.
It was clearly two sides struggling for form and a draw was probably a fair result, but both teams would be disappointed not to win it.
Leeds were two scores clear with 10 minutes left – and then Trinity missed three attempts to win it with a drop goal in the final moments.
Rhinos will now have to win both their final games to have a realistic chance of finishing outside the bottom-four.
Rhinos – and referee Robert Hicks – thought they had scored after two minutes when Justin Horo spilled Richie Myler’s kick straight to Mitch Garbutt who touched down.
Video official Ben Thaler instead decided Horo had been taken out in the air by Brad Singleton, so a penalty went to Trinity.
Moments later though the visitors were penalised in possession and from that Richie Myler played a one-two with Joel Moon before Ryan Hall went over from Ash Handley’s pass. Liam Sutcliffe’s touchline conversion made it 6-0, but not for long.
Rhinos survived fierce pressure on their own line, from a drop out and penalty after Carl Ablett had knocked on, but Trinity scored a superb long-range try from a scrum deep in their territory.
Bill Tupou has been one of Trinity’s top performers in an inconsistent season and the centre carved Leeds’s right-side defence open, getting past Sutcliffe, Tom Briscoe, Garbutt and Jack Walker from Max Jowitt’s neat pass.
The scoring went from sublime to ridiculous when Rhinos regained the lead on 22 minutes. It was a self-inflicted wound for Trinity. Tyler Randell threw out a poor pass following a scrum close to Wakefield’s line, the ball was hacked on by Myler and he ran through to gather and slide over.
Sutcliffe added the extras, Reece Lyne was penalised for interference in the next set and Rhinos increased their lead when Brad Dwyer and Myler worked the ball to Moon and he dumped a pass to Handley who finished strongly.
Sutcliffe’s conversion made it 18-6, but Trinity rallied after back-to-back penalties, Horo bursting powerfully past Ablett from Kyle Wood’s pass.
Hampshire kicked the goal and that completed the first half scoring.
Rhinos have been punished by drop goals time and again this season, but it’s a lesson they haven’t learned.
Leading by a converted try they had an attack in the final seconds of the half, but made no attempt to set up for the one-pointer, moving the ball wide to Sutcliffe whose low kick was easily dealt with by the defence.
There were numerous unforced errors in the first half and a downpour during the break didn’t help.
Trinity made the stronger start, but twice let Leeds off the hook from attacking scrums.
Ten minutes into the half Rhinos received a penalty in front of the posts 40 metres out and Sutcliffe took the two to open a two-score gap.
With 18 minutes left Dwyer’s kick was lost by Ben Jones-Bishop, but the hooker – following up – knocked the ball dead and video official Thaler awarded a 20-metre tap. Jowitt almost found a gap at the other end, but was halted by Dwyer’s tackle and Hall did a fine job to keep Lyne out from Jacob Miller’s kick.
A run of penalties – Trinity received the last four – kept Leeds pinned back in their own half and eventually led to Wakefield’s reviving try.
Miller grubbered between the posts and Wood – who was excellent off the bench – followed up to touch down.
The on-field decision was try and Thaler didn’t see enough evidence to overturn that. Hampshire added the goal.
Walker knocked on in the next set and Trinity levelled following the scrum when Hampshire landed a penalty.
Jowitt’s break gave Miller an opportunity to land a drop goal, but his kick bounced away off a post, Hampshire was off target with a similar effort and Miller had one charged down by Dwyer in the final seconds.
Leeds Rhinos: Walker, T. Briscoe, L. Sutcliffe, Handley, Hall, Moon, Myler, Garbutt, Dwyer, Singleton, Ablett, Ferres, Cuthbertson. Substitutes: Ward, Walters, Oledzki, Golding.
Wakefield Trinity: Jowitt, Jones-Bishop, Lyne, Tupou, Johnstone, Miller, Hampshire, Fifita, Randell, England, Ashurst, Horo, Annakin. Substitutes: Wood, Pauli, Arona, Hirst.
Referee: Robert Hicks (RFL)