Wakefield Trinity 27 Wigan Warriors 26: Will Dagger the hero as Mark Applegarth's men claim stunning win

There is something about a visit from Wigan Warriors that stirs the senses at Belle Vue.

Wakefield Trinity had won five of the previous eight meetings on home soil, a remarkable record considering the relative fortunes of the two clubs.

With their Super League place on the line once again, Wakefield pulled off another improbable victory to stun the high-flying Warriors and throw the race for survival wide open.

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Will Dagger was the hero for Trinity, holding his nerve to knock over a golden-point drop goal after sending an absorbing contest to extra time with a penalty on the full-time hooter.

As Dagger and his team-mates raced over to the North Stand to celebrate with the jubilant home fans, Wigan were left to reflect on a costly late hit that gave Wakefield the lifeline they desperately needed.

After losing their opening 14 games, Wakefield have demonstrated their trademark spirit to win three of their last four fixtures and threaten a great escape to top any of those that have gone before.

Mark Applegarth's men are now just two points behind rivals Castleford Tigers who lost at home to Leigh Leopards, while Huddersfield Giants will be looking nervously over their shoulder ahead of their trip to Catalans Dragons.

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The victory was all the more impressive given the loss of Luke Gale in the early part of the week to a freak training injury, meaning another new position for Liam Kay alongside Dagger in the halves.

David Fifita celebrates the win with the fans. (Photo: Olly Hassell/SWpix.com)David Fifita celebrates the win with the fans. (Photo: Olly Hassell/SWpix.com)
David Fifita celebrates the win with the fans. (Photo: Olly Hassell/SWpix.com)

Trinity lost by an aggregate score of 82-6 in the first two meetings of the year at the DW Stadium but their home record against the Warriors offered hope, including a 30-12 victory against the odds last August.

Wakefield were sensing another memorable win after taking the initiative in front of a fervent home crowd.

Applegarth's side gained confidence from a strong defensive effort to see off sustained goal-line pressure and had another reason to believe when Tom Lineham went over in the corner following a crisp shift to the right.

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Jay Pitts had already breached Wigan's left-edge defence but the visitors failed to heed the warning and found themselves 6-0 down after 12 minutes.

Wakefield fans and players celebrating Jai Whitbread's try. (Photo: Olly Hassell/SWpix.com)Wakefield fans and players celebrating Jai Whitbread's try. (Photo: Olly Hassell/SWpix.com)
Wakefield fans and players celebrating Jai Whitbread's try. (Photo: Olly Hassell/SWpix.com)

The Warriors threatened a response when Jai Field lost the ball close to the line under pressure from two defenders in another goal-line win for Wakefield.

Just as Trinity appeared to be in control, they committed a cardinal sin. With all the chasers offside from Max Jowitt's high kick, Field was allowed to collect the bouncing ball unchallenged and race 80 metres to get Wigan on the board.

Wakefield were soon reminded that Field and Bevan French come as a double act after Lineham spilt Harry Smith's towering kick close to his own line.

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French motored over from the scrum and the try was signed off by referee Marcus Griffiths despite calls for an obstruction.

David Fifita on the charge. (Photo: Olly Hassell/SWpix.com)David Fifita on the charge. (Photo: Olly Hassell/SWpix.com)
David Fifita on the charge. (Photo: Olly Hassell/SWpix.com)

Smith's second conversion put Wigan in control at 12-6 but Wakefield went into the break level thanks to a moment of inspiration from Lee Kershaw, the winger intercepting a pass 20 metres from his own line before seeing off Field and French on his way to the corner.

Another nerveless touchline conversion from Dagger levelled the scores and it would have got even better for Trinity before half-time had Renouf Atoni taken in David Fifita's offload five metres out.

Wakefield looked as if they had undone their good first-half work when the Warriors scored twice in the early stages of the second period.

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French accelerated through a hole in the Trinity defence to go over for his second before Liam Marshall touched down after Abbas Miski outjumped Jowitt to claim Smith's high kick.

Smith missed both conversions to keep Trinity in it but few would have predicted what was to come as the hosts scored two tries in as many minutes to turn the game on its head.

Atoni was a central figure in both, crashing over for the first and then pouncing on an error by Field from a high kick to put front-row partner Jai Whitbread over.

Lee Kershaw celebrates his try with Samisoni Langi. (Photo: Olly Hassell/SWpix.com)Lee Kershaw celebrates his try with Samisoni Langi. (Photo: Olly Hassell/SWpix.com)
Lee Kershaw celebrates his try with Samisoni Langi. (Photo: Olly Hassell/SWpix.com)

When Dagger added his fourth goal to make it 24-20 on 62 minutes, Wakefield were in dreamland.

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There was a sense Wigan were not done yet and so it proved, Toby King going over out wide on the last tackle on the back of a huge burst through the middle by Junior Nsemba.

Smith held his nerve to edge the Warriors back ahead and they seemed to have the win in the bag after managing the remaining minutes expertly.

But a rush of blood in the dying seconds gifted Dagger the chance to take the match to extra time with the last kick and he ensured he had the final word with a cool drop goal on the back of a charging run from Fifita to spark wild scenes of celebration at Belle Vue.

Wakefield Trinity: Jowitt, Lineham, Lyne, Langi, Kershaw, Dagger, Kay, Bowden, Hood, Whitbread, Pitts, Ashurst, Battye. Substitutes: Bowes, Proctor, Atoni, Fifita.

Wigan Warriors: Field, Miski, King, Thornley, Marshall, French, Smith, Havard, O'Neill, Byrne, Shorrocks, Farrell, Smithies. Substitutes: Singleton, Nsemba, Mago, Cust.

Referee: Marcus Griffiths.

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