THEIR stunning win over Betfred Super League leaders St Helens five days earlier should have been a springboard, but Wakefield Trinity belly-flopped to a bitterly disappointing defeat at Salford Red Devils last night.
The victory against Saints, which ended a five-game losing run, had clearly taken its toll on Trinity who were second-best to a hard-working and resilient Salford side.
Salford played some good rugby at times, but most tellingly they provided a lesson in how to punish the opposition’s mistakes in a one-sided second half when they ran in six tries.
The home side turned the ball over near their own line numerous times, but Wakefield could not benefit.
In contrast, the hosts scored three times directly from Wakefield errors after the break.
There were as many penalties – eight – as points in the first half, which was end-to-end, but without either team being able to display much creativity with the ball.
The game burst into life in a third quarter that produced four tries, three of them to Salford, and a sin-binning and from that point dispirited Wakefield never looked like getting back into the contest.
For the second time in six days, Trinity conceded a second-minute try, before they had been in possession.
That sparked a blistering response against Saints, but on this occasion Wakefield looked heavy legged and, despite spells of pressure, they played too much up the middle and barely threatened a breakthrough.
Salford, who have now won successive games following last weekend’s victory at Huddersfield Giants, ran harder and defended strongly and they coped well without stand-off Robert Lui in the second half.
A penalty in the opening set, for a high tackle by Justin Horo on former Wakefield winger Greg Johnson, gave Salford an early opportunity and they took it as the ball was moved left to Junior Sa’u and he powered over for a touchdown that Lui improved.
This was the only touchdown in the opening period, though Lui increased Salford’s lead with a penalty, following a high tackle by Scott Grix, nine minutes before the interval.
That came moments after a rare flowing move from Trinity, Craig Huby and Liam Finn shifting the ball right to Reece Lyne, who spilled it 10 metres out.
At the other end Jake Bibby twice went close, but was kept out by Joe Arundel and Bill Tupou on both occasions.
Wakefield made a calamitous start to the second half, conceding 12 points in 11 minutes, all following Lyne’s departure to the sin-bin for holding on too long after chasing back to make a try-saving tackle on Niall Evalds.
Tyrone McCarthy had a spell off the field for a concussion assessment in the first half, but returned with vigour after the interval.
He booted the resulting penalty and then scooted over from acting-half after Craig Kopczak had been held up over the line.
McCarthy converted that and Salford went 20-0 ahead when Ryan Lannon touched down after the defence failed to deal with a high kick near their own line.
Arundel pulled an unconverted try back, running a nice line on to Grix’s pass just before Lyne’s return, but a diving finish by Bibby restored the 20-0 gap with 22 minutes left.
Salford put the result beyond doubt in the 70th minute when Finn, who is playing with a broken finger, lost the ball near his own line and George Griffin pounced to go over, Jack Littlejohn adding the extras.
Wakefield collapsed in the final six minutes. Bibby grabbed his second try with a smart finish at the corner and then Johnson touched down to complete the scoring, and a miserable night for Trinity, after Wakefield’s right-side defence made a hash of coping with a low kick.
Salford Red Devils: Evalds, Johnson, Sa’u, Welham, Bibby, Lui, Littlejohn, Nakubuwai, Tomkins, Burgess, Griffin, McCarthy, Flanagan. Substitutes: Lannon, Kopczak, Murray, Wood.
Wakefield Trinity: Grix, Jones-Bishop, Lyne, Arundel, Tupou, Miller, Finn, Huby, Randell, Hirst, Ashurst, Kirmond, Horo. Substitutes: Wood, England, Arona, Baldwinson.
Referee: James Child (RFL).