Wakefield Trinity 20 Leeds Rhinos 13: Willie Poching adds derby win to impressive audition

AS auditions go, Willie Poching is proving a star turn in his role as interim-coach of Wakefield Trinity.

Poching took temporary charge earlier this month after a fifth successive defeat brought Chris Chester’s six-year reign to an end.

Wakefield have won three of their four games since then, all of them against teams in top-six contention.

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After yesterday’s 20-13 defeat of Leeds Rhinos, Poching said he has not spoken to chief executive Michael Carter about taking the job on a permanent basis and insisted: “That will look after itself in due course.”

David Faftita celebrates with Joe Arundel who scored Wakefield's match-winning try. Picture Bruce Rollinson

But Poching has made it clear he would like the role and it seems, from the evidence of recent games, the players would relish that appointment.

Their performance against Leeds was far from perfect, particularly in the first half when they wasted a series of good opportunities, but it was packed full of spirit, determination and commitment to each other, qualities which were lacking during the sequence of poor results which led to Chester’s dismissal.

“They are showing they are a real unit and for me, that’s a massive factor,” said Poching in the aftermath of Trinity’s latest win.

“That’s the thing that I am after when they cross that line, that – regardless of who’s wearing the Wakey jersey – they are there for each other and they protect each other.

Brad Dwyer celebrates scoring the Rhinos' second try.

“We are starting to see some of that pretty consistently.”

Poching’s only defeat came against neighbours Castleford Tigers and he admitted: “In that, for 40 minutes we lacked the emotion that should go with playing in a derby game. This time they showed a lot of spirit and fight right from the start, which is what I asked them to do.

“To get the rewards for that is really pleasing and so is some of the spirit and belief they are playing with.”

Leeds, temporarily down to 12 men, opened the scoring after 14 minutes, totally against the run of play, when Tom Briscoe sent Kruise Leeming in for a try which Rhyse Martin converted.

Kruise Leeming scores the Rhinos' opening try.

Trinity levelled six minutes before the break, Jacob Miller engineering an opening for Kelepi Tanginoa and Mason Lino adding the extras.

That was the least Wakefield deserved on the balance of play, but Rhinos struck in the closing moments of the half to regain the lead. Rob Lui kicked low between the posts and Brad Dwyer ran through to gather and touch down.

Martin’s second goal made it 12-6 and, as Poching conceded afterwards, the home team needed to go up a level,

“We weren’t clinical enough,” he said of his side’s attack in the opening period.

Jordan Crowther celebrates scoring Wakefield's second try.

“We regrouped at half-time and addressed some of that.

“I thought they were really good at delivering what they promised at half-time.”

Trinity levelled 12 minutes into the second half and looked the more likely winners from then on.

Dwyer and Tom Holroyd did very well to prevent Miller grounding the ball over the line, but then Kyle Wood’s kick deflected off a post, which fooled the defence and Jordan Cowther touched down.

Lino converted and Tom Johnstone made an outstanding tackle to prevent Rhinos regaining the lead, barging Luke Briscoe into touch just short.

Moments later Leeds’ defence let Miller’s kick bounce, Lino picked up with support outside him, but his pass was intercepted by Callum McLelland. Ash Handley did the same soon afterwards.

Trinity players celebrate with Joe Arundel after scoring after Wakefield's match-winning try.

Miller banged over a one-pointer to edge Wakefield ahead for the first time with 10 minutes left, but a mistake by Eddie Battye from the restart handed the ball straight back to Rhinos and Lui landed a drop goal to level.

Golden point loomed at that stage, but Ryan Hampshire kicked Trinity back in front through their second one-pointer with six minutes left and in the final moments Joe Arundel crashed over to seal it and Lino converted following the hooter.

Leeds coach Rchard Agar accepted his team hadn’t played well enough, particularly on attack.

“The big thing that hurt us was what we did and didn’t do with the ball,” he conceded.

“We didn’t build any pressure, we went chasing points on play two and play three, threw ourselves into touch, got half-breaks and looked to kick the ball instead of building pressure.

“I think, when we look back on it, we’ll see a game that was played in our half for the big percentage of it.”

Agar added: “Given that, I actually thought we defended all right.

“Our discipline with the ball was atrocious, but I thought we tried to back it up defensively really well.

“I can find some positives in that, but I think we barely had 13 sets in the second half.

“Our good-ball completion was as low as it has ever been while I’ve been here.

“The game was played in our half pretty much from start to finish.”

Leeds captain Matt Prior was sin-binned in each half, initially for a high tackle and then following a skirmish with Chris Green, who was also shown a yellow card.

Prior’s second yellow was Leeds’ 10th of the season and they have had at least one in each of their last three matches.

Agar accepted some of the responsibility rests with his team, but confessed to being unsure why it is happening so often.

“We are very quick to get sin-bins,” he said.

“[We get] sin-bins on the back of touch judges who are 40 metres away giving reports.

“Richie Myler got sin-binned against Salford for nothing, Zane Tetevano got sin-binned against Huddersfield for nothing.

“We know we are having to work to very, very high standards at the moment because we are very quick to give penalties away and sin-bins.

“That’s how it feels from our stand-point.”

Wakefield Trinity: Hampshire, Kershaw, Arundel, Senior, Johnstone, Miller, Lino, Green, Kay, Battye, Pitts, Tanginoa, Crowther. Substitutes: K Wood, Fifita, Aydin, Batchelor.

Leeds Rhinos: Myler, L Briscoe, Newman, T Briscoe, Handley, Lui, Leeming, Thompson, Dwyer, Prior, Donaldson, Martin, Tetevano. Substitutes: Holroyd, McLelland, Vuniyayawa, Smith.

Referee: C Kendall (Huddersfield).