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WATCH - Wakefield 54 Hull KR 18: Johnstone hat-trick as Trinity punish Robins

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JUST when they needed it most, Wakefield Trinity delivered.

There had been some fears that the West Yorkshire club could get dragged into the bottom four if their recent worrying form continued, a far cry from last season’s assault at the other end of the Super League table.

Tom Johnstone dives over for a try.

Tom Johnstone dives over for a try.

However, Chris Chester’s side demonstrated just what they are truly capable of with a ruthless second-half destruction of hapless Hull KR in the Belle Vue sunshine.

It was only a second victory in nine matches, but also their biggest Super League success over Hull KR and it certainly leaves them in good stead for Friday’s Ladbrokes Challenge Cup tie at Huddersfield Giants.

Tom Johnstone led the way with a hat-trick, just as he did when the sides met on the opening night of the campaign.

Recalled full-back Scott Grix (2), Ben Jones-Bishop, Matty Ashurst, Tyler Randell and Anthony England all scored tries, too, while Australian stand-off Jacob Miller was the creative force and David Fifita proved a real handful on his return from a groin injury.

Nevertheless, the hosts initially looked sluggish during the first period even though they somehow found themselves 18-12 ahead.

However, they were a far different entity in the second half when, with Miller becoming increasingly influential, they were able to pull away from their struggling rivals who now slip to 11th.

Liam Finn, restored to the side after being dropped against Castleford, slotted a 44th-minute penalty and when KR infringed again it was Miller’s astute pass that sent Grix over for the first of his brace.

Trailing 26-12, Rovers were still in the contest on 52 minutes so they were furious when referee James Child missed Jones-Bishop’s blatant push into the back of Chris Clarkson when challenging for Maurice Blair’s high kick.

Jones-Bishop duly picked up the scraps and raced 80m to score the try that killed off any hopes of a KR victory.

Miller’s kick then found Johnstone for his second before Grix dummied through from 20m.

Kieran Moss, back from his dual-registration deal with York City Knights, got a consolation for the visitors in the 68th minute. But England benefited from another Jones-Bishop break and then Johnstone rounded things off.

Hull KR were poor in the second period in most facets of the game. But Tim Sheens’s side will have wondered just how they were 18-12 down at the interval given how much they controlled the opening 40 minutes.

Tommy Lee started and ended the first period with 40/20 kicks but neither time his side could capitalise. Liam Salter also had two great opportunities in the left corner but was deemed to be in touch for first and, with his second attempt, spilled when stretching over.

That said, even Chester, not only Sheens, said afterwards that the first effort should have been given.

Full-back Adam Quinlan seemed to be involved in a break every time he touched the ball. Rovers played by far the better football and had the majority of the play yet were still behind.

Trinity opened the scoring when Matty Ashurst supported Miller’s quality stepping break in the eighth minute, Liam Finn slotting the first of his nine goals.

Soon after, they doubled their advantage. Rovers prop Robbie Mulhern charged close but Danny McGuire’s grubber only found Miller who sprinted 80m to the other end. He didn’t quite have the speed to finish off but Johnstone popped up on his shoulder to finish off.

Sheens’s side finally got some rewards with a thrilling try from Clarkson which involved a stunning run from Ryan Shaw and some fine handling from McGuire and Jordan Walne.

They immediately added their second in the next set, too, with McGuire’s quality inside pass unleashing Quinlan down the middle.

The Australian full-back finished well and Shaw converted both to leave it 12-12 after 21 minutes.

More chances came and went for Rovers and that lack of a clinical touch hurt them.

Instead, with a rare Trinity attack, Tyler Randell went over from dummy-half exposing some soft defence in the 28th minute.

That defence would then crumble again and again in the second period leaving the East Yorkshire club with plenty of issues ahead of Sunday’s Challenge Cup visit from Wigan Warriors.

Hooker Aaron Smith, the loan signing from St Helens, fared well on his senior debut but Clarkson (hip), McGuire (leg) and Blair (back) all finished with injuries that leaves them doubtful for next week.

Wakefield Trinity: Grix; Jones-Bishop, Lyne, Tupou, Johnstone; Miller, Finn; England, Randell, Hirst, Pauli, Ashurst, Arona. Substitutes: Wood, Batchelor, Fifta, Huby.

Hull KR: Quinlan; Shaw, Blair, Vaivai, Salter; McGuire, Lee; Mulhern, Atkin, Masoe, Clarkson, Tickle, Kavanagh. Substitutes: Smith, Greenwood, Walne, Moss.

Referee: J Child (Dewsbury).