Wakefield joined Leeds on four points as they made it two wins out of two in the Betfred Super League, but only after Salford’s Gareth O’Brien missed a last-gasp touchline conversion attempt.
The Red Devils full-back was unable to split the posts with any of his three kicks and his last miss proved crucial as Wakefield, despite being outscored three tries to two, held on for victory at the Mobile Rocket Stadium.
It was a thrilling finale to a match desperately short of quality on a bitterly cold night, with Scott Grix’s converted try early on and Liam Finn’s penalty giving Wakefield an 8-0 lead at the interval. Salford were particularly poor, but the Red Devils rallied after the break through tries from Robert Lui, Niall Evalds and Kris Welham, only for Jacob Miller’s converted score to prove decisive.
Chris Chester’s men beat Hull KR last week and started full of intensity, Grix burst through a gap in the Salford defence to open the scoring after five minutes.
It was not a try that lit the touch paper for Wakefield as their opponents responded with no little effort.
But, despite having plenty of possession and territory, there was a lack of penetration to Salford going forward, with Wakefield’s defence holding firm on their own line on multiple occasions.
Jake Bibby wasted Salford’s only gilt-edged chance of the half after spilling Kris Welham’s pass with the try-line at his mercy.
Wakefield rode the storm and Finn opted to take the two points on offer in front of goal three minutes before half-time when Salford were penalised following a dashing break down the right.
Salford shipped 30 points in the second half against Wigan last week but, after surviving a scare when Wakefield prop Pauli Pauli failed to take advantage of some loose defending, the visitors found a route back into the match in West Yorkshire.
It was Wakfield’s turn to switch off after quick handling down the right from Salford was followed by Lui going over from dummy-half in the 47th minute
That provided the spark for a rejuvenated Salford as, seven minutes later, the ball was spread out wide for Evalds to go over in the left corner although O’Brien’s failure to convert both scores left the scores level at 8-8.
But some indiscipline from Salford allowed Wakefield some respite and they were able to forage ahead once again in the 63rd minute when Miller was alert to touch down to the right of the posts after Ryan Hamshire’s seemingly desperate kick.
Hampshire himself was then denied a try after a knock-on and Wakefield’s inability to kill the game off came back to haunt them when Welham burrowed over in the final minute in the right corner.
O’Brien had failed to split the posts with his two previous conversion attempts and he sent his third effort from the touchline wide after the hooter to give Wakefield victory.
Wakefield: Grix, Jones-Bishop, Lyne, Tupou, Johnstone, Miller, Finn, Fifita, Wood, England, Ashurst, Horo, Arona. Substitutes: Kirmond, Pauli, Huby, Hampshire.
Salford: O’Brien, Bibby, Welham, Sa’u, Evalds, Lui, Littlejohn, Mossop, Wood, Tasi, Jones, Hauraki, McCarthy. Substitutes: Kopczak, Tomkins, Burgess, Nakubuwai.
Referee: James Child (RFL)