Wakefield Trinity 22 Wigan Warriors 23 - We paid Wigan too much respect, admits Chris Chester
Wakefield were 22-6 down with 14 minutes left, but a stunning try by wing Tom Johnstone – who, despite an arm injury, got the ball down one-handed from debutant Tony Gigot’s kick – gave them hope.
Liam Kay, another lockdown signing, went over moments later to cut the gap to six and he was in again with two minutes left, Max Jowitt converting.
Crucially though, young half-back Harry Smith, who was an early replacement for the injured Thomas Leuluai, landed a drop goal between Kay’s scores and that proved the difference.
In the final seconds Jacob Miller attempted to send the game into extra-time, but his drop goal attempt was off-target.
Trinity were second-best for the first hour, after going ahead through an early Gigot penalty and possibly fortunate not to be further behind after wasting most of their field position through a series of basic errors.
Zak Hardaker scored from Smith’s pass and landed the first of his three conversions before his kick was touched down by Bevan French.
Wakefield’s lively substitute hooker Kyle Wood scored a smart solo try from acting-half six minutes before the interval, but tries in a 15-minute period either side of the break, by Liam Marshall from Jackson Hastings’s kick and Jake Bibby, who forced his way over from close-range, seemed to have left Wakefield with too much to do. Trinity’s coach Chris Chester felt his side’s error-ridden first half performance cost them the points.
He reflected: “Obviously I am disappointed to lose the game.
“I just thought we paid them too much respect in the first half.
“We spoke in the week about making sure we completed high in the first half, but we didn’t do that – we were just less than 50 per cent.
“Some guys were probably guilty of trying too hard, trying to over-play, but obviously I am happy and proud of their effort and it could have gone either way with a minute to go.”
Wakefield Trinity: Gigot, Kay, Lyne. Tupou, Johnstone, Miller, Jowitt, Kopczak, J Wood, Navarrete, Pitts, Tanginoa, Arona. Substitutes: K Wood, Fifita, Kirmond, Tangata.
Wigan: French, Manfredi, Hardaker, Bibby, Marshall, Leuluai, Hastings, Bullock, Powell, Byrne, Isa, Farrell, Harvard. Substitutes: G Burgess, Clark, Smithies, Smith.
Referee: B Thaler (Wakefield).
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