Wakefield head coach James Webster labelled his side’s Ladbrokes Challenge Cup win over Championship club Halifax as “a dramatic improvement” on last week’s showing at Warrington.
The Wildcats suffered the ignominy of equalling Super League’s record margin of defeat in an 80-0 loss against the Wolves - their eight successive reverse - but they gave their fans something to cheer at long last on Friday night at Belle Vue.
The Wakefield faithful had to sweat for over an hour, though, as part-timers Halifax went blow for blow with their side, only to fall away in the final quarter on their way to a 44-16 defeat.
Webster was happy to see his men come through a tough cup tie and book their place in the sixth round.
“Everyone’s aim in the Challenge Cup is to get into the draw for the next round, and we’ve been good enough to do that,” he said.
“I thought Halifax were outstanding. It’s no fluke they played like that. They’ve got a heap of players who have played a lot of Super League - and even didn’t pick a few who have played a lot of Super League - and will be more than ultra-competitive in that league.
“I came prepared for a close game. My thought pattern was it was going to be six to eight to 10 points in that game based on the games I’ve seen Halifax play.
“We made some strides today. We’ve still got some more to make but we’re looking forward to making them.
“I’m just pleased we’re in the draw. We’ve made a dramatic improvement from last week.
“You’ve got to enjoy the cup while you can; you never know when you’re going to get another chance in it.”
Asked who he would like in the next round, Webster joked: “(Amateur side) Leigh Miners!”
Opposite number Richard Marshall felt the defeat was a reflection of Halifax’s season, which has seen them win five matches and lose four to sit fourth in the second tier.
Fax scored through James Saltonstall, Ben Heaton and Gareth Potts as they traded tries with Wakefield during a fascinating first hour, but ultimately their part-time status told as the Wildcats ran away with it.
Richard Owen’s double and further scores from Daniel Smith and Chris Riley had edged Wakefield 22-16 ahead before Craig Hall, Danny Washbrook and debutant Ian Kirke (two) all crossed.
“It was a little bit like the story of our season,” said Marshall. “We’ve been in with a chance of winning most of our games and I don’t think it was any different this evening.
“I think the full-time opposition told towards the end as they racked up a few points, which was not a fair reflection of our efforts.
“Two-thirds of our squad have worked today - they’ve been on roofs and cleaning windows - and that was probably what got us.
“I’m pretty disappointed but we did go toe-to-toe with a Super League outfit so there are positives to take away.”