WAKEFIELD TRINITY were left kicking themselves after being beaten by visitors Warrington Wolves, despite scoring five tries to four and not missing a kick at goal.
Warrington had a policy of taking the two whenever they had an opportunity within kicking distance of Trinity’s posts and the tactic paid off, four penalty goals securing them a vital two points.
With Castleford Tigers managing only a draw at home to Hull KR, Warrington moved a point clear in third place in the Super League table. Wakefield remain sixth and still have work to do in order to secure a place in the Super-8s.
Trinity never quite got on terms after trailing 20-0 early in the second quarter and 24-6 a minute after half-time, but they gave Warrington some anxious moments late on.
It seemed the visitors were home and dry when Bryson Goodwin converted Kevin Brown’s try with 15 minutes left to give them a 32-18 lead and the score stayed that way until four minutes from time.
But then Warrington’s Sitaleki Akauola was sin-binned following persistent infringements by his side, though Wakefield had received a penalty between the team warning and yellow card and reduced to 12 men, Warrington went to pieces.
In a frantic finish, Bill Tupou put Tom Johnstone over and Pauli Pauli crossed from David Fifita’s pass, Ryan Hampshire converted both, but time ran out for Trinity.
It was a downbeat camp after the game and Trinity coach Chris Chester admitted: “The players are filthy with themselves. Kirmo (captain Danny Kirmond) has had a pop at the end of the game there.
“We felt we didn’t deserve the two points, but we certainly wasted an opportunity because of the way we started the game. We are disappointed, but there’s lot of positives to take out of it.
“We went toe to toe with a world-class team. They have got some very, very good players and that first 25 minutes is the probably the best I have seen them play.”
We’ve taken another top-four club right down to the wire and if we continue with that kind of effort over the next six or seven weeks we will find ourselves involved in some big games at the end of the year.Chris Chester
Warrington full-back Stefan Ratchford, a member of the England squad for Saturday’s Test against New Zealand in Denver, touched down twice in the opening 10 minutes. Harvey Livett converted both, booted a penalty and then added the extras after Tom Lineham’s try.
A close-range try by Tinirau Arona steadied Trinity’s ship, Hampshire landing the first of his four goals, but Warrington added to their tally with penalties either side of the interval, from Livett and Goodwin.
Kyle Wood, Trinity’s replacement hooker, made a difference when he came off the bench and scored back-to-back tries, from kicks by Hampshire and Jacob Miller and, all of a sudden, Wakefield were back in it.
Goodwin kicked another penalty and when, after Warrington’s defence had twice managed to thwart Reece Lyne close to the line, Ben Murdoch-Masila and Lineham created a try for Brown and Goodwin’s kick opened a three-score gap, it seemed there was to be no way back.
Chester had no complaints about the result and accepted his side’s poor start left them with too much to do.
“They were far superior to us in that first 25 minutes,” he conceded. “We couldn’t get a hold of the ruck, offloads killed us and 25 minutes in we were 20 points behind.
“We didn’t help ourselves with yardage penalties and our contact was a long way off where it needed to be.
“I have got to be happy with the character we showed in the second half and I’m kicking myself we didn’t take the two when we got a penalty that would have taken it back to six points.
“But I couldn’t be prouder of the guys.
“We’ve taken another top-four club right down to the wire and if we continue with that kind of effort over the next six or seven weeks we will find ourselves involved in some big games at the end of the year.”
Pauli, the 23-year-old forward signed in the closed season from Newcastle Knights, confirmed after the game he has taken up an option to stay at Wakefield next year.
Trinity are likely to be without loose-forward Justin Horo for several games after he hobbled off with a persistent calf muscle problem.
Wakefield Trinity: Jowitt, Jones-Bishop, Tupou, Lyne, Johnstone, Miller, Hampshire, Fifita, Randell, England, Pauli, Ashurst, Horo. Substitutes: Wood, Kirmond, Arona, Hirst.
Warrington Wolves: Ratchford, Lineham, Goodwin, Atkins, Charnley, K Brown, Roberts, Hill, Clark, Cooper, Livett, Hughes, Westwood. Substitutes: Murdoch-Masila, Patton, Akauola, Crosby.
Referee: C Kendall (Huddersfield).