Super League: PLENTY of effort and commitment amounted to nothing for Wakefield Trinity Wildcats last night as they were defeated by an under-strength Warrington Wolves side to remain rooted to the foot of the Super League table.
It is perhaps an oxymoron to label the Challenge Cup holders in such a way given they still boasted seven England internationals in their ranks but it is a sign of the gulf in class between the haves and have-nots that they still managed to eke out victory without being severely tested.
Trinity coach John Kear must dream of being able to have the likes of ex-Wildcats favourites Ben Westwood, Ryan Atkins and David Solomona still in his ranks at the Rapid Solicitors Stadium or the luxury of doing without Adrian Morley, Brett Hodgson, Matt King, Michael and Joel Monaghan plus Louis Anderson.
Instead, his young cohorts, led by industrious captain Glenn Morrison and supplemented by ex-Hull FC half-back Tommy Lee, battled hard but were ultimately no match.
It is a matter of conjecture whether Wakefield were lucky not to have been more than 10-0 down at the break or actually deserved better for their efforts.
It was generally an abject half of football from both sides but with the amount of possession Warrington – who eclipsed Castleford at the top last night despite Harlequins’ surprise 27-16 win over St Helens at Widnes – controlled they really should have capitalised more.
A mixture of their poor execution and some resilient Trinity scramble defence ensured the hosts remained in touch at the break but they squandered too much ball themselves and lacked conviction in the rare opportunities they got anywhere near the opposition line.
Things did not start well when Michael Korkidas failed to deal with kick-off, allowing it to bounce dead for an immediate drop out.
Wakefield defended their line well in the resultant set but after a period of incessant pressure, during which Warrington seemed quicker, stronger and more decisive, Richie Myler’s lofted kick was dropped embarrassingly with his first touch by debutant Greg Johnson and Chris Riley pounced for an easy seventh-minute opener.
Westwood, colossal as always against his former club, missed the conversion attempt but was on target six minutes later when Chris Bridge weaved over all too easily.
The England centre – playing at full-back in the absence of former Huddersfield captain Hodgson – received the ball from a standing start 10 metres out and stepped past three feeble tackle attempts before taking two players over the line with him.
A succession of Wakefield errors meant they had no early field position and when they did a shoddy pass by Lee saw one opportunity go begging while Josh Griffin – making his first start since signing with Johnson from Huddersfield – fumbled out wide in a promising spot.
Rhys Evans thought he had added Warrington’s third try but video referee Ian Smith rightly ruled his foot just grazed the whitewash after some fine cover defence.
Following a relieving penalty, Wakefield hooker Julien Rinaldi coughed up on the second tackle as he tried burrowing over the line but, fortunately, Tony Smith’s side were equally as profligate, Matty Blythe evading Griffin’s tackle but failing to ground properly.
Another wayward delivery by Lee meant Korkidas could not rampage to the posts as hoped but even the usually precise Lee Briers was dragged down to the lowly standards, sending an awful pass to Riley soon after.
Wakefield showed their grit and determination, though, to twice deny the visitors just before the break leaving them in positive mood for the second period.
However, that was quickly extinguished when Atkins crossed seven minutes after the resumption, walking in after his side finally found their customary crispness, Jon Clarke and Myler providing Solomona with the chance to apply the slick final pass.
Westwood improved but Briers again miscued with a long pass to let Wakefield off once more.
Lee utilised the wind – his side did not kick one penalty to touch in the first half such was the severity of the gusts in their face – to produce a booming 40/20 and Kevin Henderson thought he had scrambled over on his knees.
However, Smith awarded a double movement and Myler extend Wolves’ lead just before the hour when he sped untouched onto a cut-out pass from Clarke, Westwood converting.
Wakefield did finally get reward for their endeavour in the 65th minute when Griffin charged down Briers’s kick and picked up to race 40 metres to the line, recovering his breath sufficiently to land an excellent touchline conversion.
Lee then delivered a rousing shoulder charge on Westwood to lift the majority of the crowd and, soon after, avoided the England man’s attempted retribution to execute another fine 40/20 but there was no end product, the story of his side’s evening.
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats: Murphy; G Johnson, Griffin, Dean, George; Hyde, Lee; Korkidas, Rinaldi, P Johnson, Mariano, Morrison, Howarth. Substitutes: Gledhill, Wildie, Amor, Henderson.
Warrington Wolves: Bridge; Riley, Blythe, Atkins, Evans; Briers, Myler; Carvell, Higham, Wood, Westwood, Grix, Harrison. Substitutes: Solomona, Mitchell, McCarthy, Clarke.
Referee: Richard Silverwood (Mirfield)