BOTH coaches called for television replays to be used at all Super League games after Wakefield Trinity completed back-to-back wins with a 24-22 victory over Salford Red Devils in a slow-burning thriller at Belle Vue.
The game exploded into life in the second half when Salford overturned a 12-2 interval deficit to lead 22-12.
Wakefield battled back to go two points ahead with less than one minute remaining and then Salford’s Ben Murdoch-Masila had a chance to win it for the visitors, but spilled the ball over the line with a second left on the clock.
Trinity coach Chris Chester injured an arm punching the air at that incident and admitted: “I thought we’d won it and then thrown it away.
“I thought it was a good advert for having video refs at every game because I thought the [Greg] Johnson try [during Salford’s fightback] was in touch.”
Salford’s Ian Watson was honest enough to admit he felt referee Robert Hicks got the ruling on the Murdoch-Masila ‘no-try’ right.
He said: “At full speed it looks like he has dropped it, [but], a Sky camera might tell you different.”
The frantic finale was tough on Salford, who showed great resolve to hang on in a game Wakefield should have had in the bag before half-time.
The hosts had an 8-3 advantage in the first-half penalty count and Salford were twice reduced to 12 men with a player in the sin-bin.
Salford went 2-0 up while Lama Tasi was sitting on the naughty step following a foul on Anthony England.
Sam Williams overturned that with two penalty goals, the second following a yellow card for Logan Tomkins after Salford had been placed on a team warning for persistent offending.
Reece Lyne touched down from Williams’s pass nine minutes before the break and Trinity seemed to have a grip on the game seven later.
Impressive second-rower Matty Ashurst made a break and passed inside to Tom Johnstone. He kicked toward the Reds line and Jacob Miller came from nowhere to touch down, though neither try was converted.
Early in the second half Craig Huby dropped the ball over the Salford line from Liam Finn’s pass and that was a turning point. Wakefield began to make errors and the visitors clawed their way back.
Between the 51st and 63rd minutes Murdoch-Masila, Kris Welham, Johnson and George Griffin all crossed and two O’Brien penalties established a 10-point gap.It was the fourth time in as many games this year Wakefield saw a lead wiped out in the second half, but – as at St Helens in their previous match – they dug deep and came up with a spirited response.
With 10 minutes left Bill Tupou went over from Kyle Wood’s pass. Williams’s conversion cut the gap to four points and two minutes from time the stand-off put Lyne over for his second touchdown to level the scores.
Williams kept his nerve to kick the angled conversion and secure a precious win, though only thanks to Murdoch-Masila’s last-gasp fumble. Chester said. “It was a great win for us.
“We got out of jail a bit, but it shows the character and the belief in the group that we can come back and get a result like that, when it looked like we weren’t going to get anything from the game.”
The win came at a cost as Lyne was taken off on a stretcher following the final whistle after suffering knee damage trying to prevent Murdoch-Masila from getting over the line.
“We don’t know exactly what he’s done but it looks like a nasty knee injury,” Chester said.
“It’s disappointing for Reece but it gives an opportunity to Joe Arundel next week.”
Wakefield Trinity: Grix, Caton-Brown, Lyne, Tupou, Johnstone, Miller, Williams, England, Wood, Huby, Ashurst, Hadley, Arona. Substitutes: Batchelor, Fifita, Allgood, Finn.
Salford Red Devils: O’Brien, Johnson, Welham, Evalds, Carney, Lui, Dobson, Mossop. Tomkins, Tasi, Jones, Murdoch-Masila, Flanagan. Substitutes: Kopczak, Griffin, Krasniqi, Brining.
Referee: R Hicks (Oldham).