Wakefield 16 Leeds 14: Rhinos stunned by Webster’s Trinity

Leeds's Ben Jones-Bishop goes over for a try.
Leeds's Ben Jones-Bishop goes over for a try.
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FIRST champions Wigan Warriors and now the mighty Leeds Rhinos; James Webster’s revitalised Wakefield Trinity Wildcats truly do not fear anyone.

The Australian remains undefeated in his four games since being promoted from Richard Agar’s assistant and, in tonight denying their West Yorkshire rivals the chance to go top of Super League, they also kept alive their own hopes of making an unlikely late bid for the play-offs.

Richard Owen, the winger who joined from Castleford in May, scored the crucial try with just two minutes remaining to drag Trinity back into a game many thought they had lost and see them draw level with Hull FC in 10th spot.

Richard Mathers - one of five former Rhinos in their side - produced the final ball having gone over for a well-worked try himself in the 53rd minute that gave the hosts a 12-8 lead.

However, when Ryan Hall rose above Owen to gather McGuire’s kick in the 67th minute, Liam Sutcliffe - who had missed his first two previous conversion attempts - held his nerve to put Leeds 14-12 ahead.

Most people had their money on Brian McDermott’s side, despite an error-strewn display, holding on from there but there was a last chance at the death.

Hall was perhaps harshly judged to have knocked on when tackling Jimmy Keinhorst, the ball coming loose and Danny McGuire - acting Leeds captain after Kevin Sinfield pulled up with back spasms before the warm-up - raced 70m to score.

The video officials ruled it out, though, and in the next set Owen came up with the killer blow, the influential Tim Smith - just like he was for Mathers’ score - the instigator with an incisive long switch pass behind the ruck as Leeds’ blindside defence switched off.

Strangely, with just 53 seconds remaining, the visitors opted against a short re-start, instead going long.

It simply allowed relieved Trinity to play out time and secure their first win over Leeds in six attempts, a victory they certainly deserved.

Granted, Leeds were missing nine first-teamers and had five teenagers in their ranks - the bench alone had an average age of just 19 meaning their forward reinforcements were decidedly lightweight.

Nonetheless, they also boasted seven internationals among their ranks tonight and talent most clubs would die for yet they still struggled for any sort of cohesion especially in a dour first half that boasted few genuine incidents of note.

Such was their lack of organisation or penetration that they failed to even get into Trinity’s 20m area until the 32nd minute.

Thankfully, however, they managed to make that pay as they finally put together a handling move of precision for Kallum Watkins to use his obvious class to expose the hosts out wide.

Wakefield - who enjoyed better ball control - had taken a 16th minute lead in admittedly fortuitous circumstances themselves.

The ex-Hull FC loose forward dived on Tim Smith’s grubber under pressure from Ben Jones-Bishop and the video referee deemed he got downward pressure though, even most Trinity fans in the 4,634 crowd would concede it was not a try in the traditional sense of the word.

Paul Sykes converted and Wakefield, who rightly had an early Chris Riley effort ruled out by the video officials, built up a swathe of possession without really troubling the visiting defence in any great manner.

They were prone to errors, too, though, thankfully for them, Leeds seemed to quickly repeat the trick every time the ball was served up.

But Watkins got that score and then Jones-Bishop came up with a moment of brilliance just before the interval to send them in 8-6 ahead.

Tom Briscoe picked up a kick and then slipped the full-back into space as he embarked on a stunning 70m run to the line cutting through and leaving four defenders flailing in his wake.

However, Wakefield were undeterred and when Paul Aiton - the Papuan hooker making his first return to Belle Vue - conceded a soft penalty holding down the darting Pita Godinet, they responded with that class of their own.

Timmy Smith switched play behind the ruck with a searching long pass for half-back partner Sykes who then instantly slipped the ball back inside for Mathers to streak through a gaping hole and just get over Jones-Bishop’s tackle.

Sykes’ conversion put them further ahead and, though Leeds rallied, the home side - who have signed Hull KR utility back Craig Hall on a two-year deal starting next season - responded when it mattered most.

Wakefield Trinity Wildcats: Mathers; Owen, Keinhorst, Lyne, Riley; Sykes, T Smith; Raleigh, McShane, Scruton, Gilmour, Ryan, Washbrook. Substitutes: Godinet, Tautai, Moore, D Smith.

Leeds Rhinos: Ben Jones-Bishop; Briscoe, Watkins, Moon, Hall; Sutcliffe, McGuire; Bailey, Aiton, Peacock, S Ward, Delaney, Walters. Substitutes: Singleton, Minichella, R Ward, Mulhern.

Referee: Matt Thomason (Warrington)