Wakefield Trinity 32 Wigan Warriors 16: Victory provides fitting farewell to legend Poynton

Ben Jones-Bishop scored two tries against Wigan.
Ben Jones-Bishop scored two tries against Wigan.
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WHAT a fitting way to remember Wakefield Trinity legend Harold Poynton.

There was a minute’s silence before last night’s game for the former half-back who captained the club to their only two Championship titles in 1967 and 1968 but died earlier this week aged 82.

It is the second time this season that Trinity have defeated one of the top clubs here having also beaten leaders St Helens.

Dave Craven

However, the real tribute came in the 80 minutes thereafter as Chris Chester’s squad produced a largely high-quality display, inspired by the relentless prop David Fifita and impish brilliance of Jacob Miller, to bring second-placed Wigan Warriors to their knees.

It is the second time this season that Trinity have defeated one of the top clubs here having also beaten leaders St Helens.

Poynton’s former team-mates Neil Fox, Ian Brooke and Geoff Oakes – who led the teams out onto the field – must have looked on with real pride.

Of course, it does not mean they will be challenging for a third league Championship to add to those famous 60s successes (they edge Leeds Rhinos out of sixth) but it is a reminder that they have it within them to perhaps make a push for the top four.

Winger Ben Jones-Bishop scored two tries, his second coming from 90m out after intercepting England captain Sean O’Loughlin’s pass, handing the hosts a 20-6 lead at the start of the second period.

Fellow winger Tom Johnstone produced a spectacular finish to increase that advantage and heap more woe on injury-hit Wigan who – in the wake of the Joel Tomkins scandal – have now lost three successive games.

Furthermore, this game saw them go more than three hours without scoring a point, dating back to the first half of their loss at Hull KR after being nilled by Warrington Wolves in the Challenge Cup.

Young prop Gabe Hamlin finally scored in the 35th minute to break that duck but Wigan, without three regular props, were no match for the likes of Fifita, Anthony England – in his 200th career game – and the rest of Wakefield’s hungry pack.

Tom Davies and Morgan Escare scored late tries to give them hope but another towering forward, Pauli Pauli, rounded things off for the hosts, Ryan Hampshire finishing with six goals from eight attempts.

Captain Danny Kirmond returned for Wakefield with an industrious display to mark his 150th club appearance as Trinity secured a third win in four league games.

They built up a 14-0 lead before Wigan even managed to get going.

Jones-Bishop produced a trademark finish in the corner off Max Jowitt’s long pass in the eighth minute and, though Hampshire could not convert, he did add penalty soon after.

That came after Bill Tupou broke clear and fed Miller, the Australian half-back who was legitimately brought down by Romain Navarrete only for the French prop to have a second dig on the floor.

It was the sort of ill-discipline that continually undid the visitors; Tony Clubb was penalised for dissent while in possession and in the next set Thomas Leuluai cleaned out Justin Horo with a tackle, expecting the Trinity forward to claim a pass that never actually came.

Leuluai, rightly, was yellow-carded – Horo left the pitch for a head injury assessment – and Wakefield immediately made the extra man pay.

Fifita, as ever, did the build-up work with another punishing drive and, as the hosts edged closer, Tupou buried over from dummy-half.

Hampshire improved the 21st minute score and added another penalty soon after.

Chester almost saw his side pull further clear when Miller dummied his way through from 40m out but Sam Powell just managed to do enough to dislodge the ball.

Still trailing just 14-0, it gave Wigan a lifeline. Initially, they failed to take it as, with a rare attack, England stand-off George Williams threw an awful pass into touch when winger Tom Davies was waiting unmarked.

They did finally get over when Hamlin crossed for his first try for the club five minutes before the break, Sam Tomkins converting.

When O’Loughlin then forced an error from Johnstone deep in Trinity territory, Wigan sensed the chance to eke their way further back into the contest,

Crucially, however, Wakefield’s fine defence held out once more, as it did for most of the night.

Chester said: “I thought we were quite dominant apart from two five minute periods where we just took our foot off the pedal.

“You could see how desperate we were for the two points – I couldn’t be happier. The lads are working so hard and our completion was great in that first half.”

Wakefield Trinity: Jowitt, Jones-Bishop, Lyne, Tupou, Johnstone, Miller, Hampshire, Fifita, Randell, England, Ashurst, Kirmond, Horo. Substitutes: Wood, Pauli, Arona, Hirst.

Wigan Warriors: S. Tomkins, Davies, Sarginson, Gildart, Mullen, Williams, Powell, Clubb, Leuluai, Navarrete, Bateman, Farrell, O’Loughlin. Substitutes: Isa, Escare, Field, Hamlin.

Referee: James Child (RFL).