THERE WAS good news off the pitch for Wakefield Trinity last night and almost a truly heroic tale on it, too.
Chris Chester’s side, despite a horrendous injury list and trailing 18-0 and then 34-12, gave high-flying Warrington Wolves an almighty scare in a thrilling Super League contest at Belle Vue.
A 77th minute try for Joe Arundel, the centre playing only his first Trinity game of the season due to Bill Tupou’s absence, got them close but Danny Brough’s towering touchline conversion attempt fell just wide.
With two-try hooker Kyle Wood in dynamic form, they still had one more chance and stunned Warrington - who have lost just once this term - were left desperately hanging on as a raucous Belle Vue crowd tried pulling their side home.
The mention of Belle Vue is important.
Earlier yesterday Trinity chairman John Minards described it as an “historic” day as the club acquired the freehold of their famous old stadium and adjoining land.
You cannot argue with him when you consider it has been their home for nearly 150 years and, for so long, there has been such uncertainty about its future.
Now, hopefully, the West Yorkshire club can start building towards the stadium they have so long craved and deserved.
Granted, Minards was quick to remind fans it is only “very much the first stage of our redevelopment plans” and the club continued to be in “active discussions with a number of parties as we progress towards our ambitions for a world class Community Stadium fit for the 21st century.”
They have been too prudent and judicious in recent years, since Michael Carter and Chris Brereton took the helm, to risk ruining all the hard work now but they are undoubtedly in a fine position now to push on and make Belle Vue work at last.
Wakefield had produced what Chester described as the best victory of his Trinity career when winning 32-12 at Hull FC on Friday but there were always going to face a sterner test here.
Principally, that was not just because Warrington are in far better form than Hull but mainly due to the fact the hosts had lost their entire left-edge from last week.
Winger Tom Johnstone, Tupou and Matty Ashurst - all Dream Team members last term - were all injured meaning significant surgery to Chester’s plans.
He brought in full-back Max Jowitt on the wing, Arundel got his long-awaited chance inside and Justin Horo started in the back-row while Pauli Pauli came in for Danny Kirmond who started a two-game ban.
Unfortunately, for those newcomers - and all the Trinity side - they barely saw any of the ball in the opening quarter as Warrington utterly dominated.
Steve Price’s side were 18-0 up inside just 13 minutes and had barely broken sweat.
Toby King leapt high to claim Declan Patton’s crossfield kick in the fifth minute, Josh Charnley eased over in the right corner as Warrington, predictably, found some hesitancy in Wakefield’s new left-edge and - when Jowitt spilled returning a kick- Chris Hill barged over with alarming easy near the posts.
Stefan Ratchford’s metronomic right boot made sure the damage was maximised and there was more woe when full-back Ryan Hampshire softly fumbled trying to pick up a unthreatening kick in the next set.
It gifted Warrington more ball but Chester’s side were thankful of some relief at last when the waves finally stopped crashing around them moments later.
Jake Mamo did, in fact, get over for Warrington but the video referee Robert Hicks ruled there had been an obstruction in the build-up.
It was perhaps harsh but Trinity - in danger of being vanquished - would not question it and they made the most of their reprieve.
Brough produced the delayed pass for Hampshire to ease over and added the first of his four conversions.
If they could have scored again next the outcome may have been different but Warrington, with Blake Austin outstanding, defended their line for four successive sets to deny them.
Instead, Australian stand-off Austin angled over for their fourth try, Ratchford converting and adding a penalty for a half-time lead of 26-6.
The England full-back slotted another early in the second period but Wakefield did not capitulate.
David Fifita, with the first carry of his second spell, skittled defenders from close range to score and, even though Austin sped clear again to provide Charnley with his second try, Trinity kept coming.
Indeed, they forced so much pressure the visitors were placed on a team warning and when Wood, the impish hooker who injects such pace, went over for two tries in five minutes, hopes of an unlikely win were raised.
When Wood darted away and Arundel’s fine overhead pass sent Jowitt in the 75th minute they got closer again before Arundel scored himself but his side were just denied.
Wakefield Trinity: Hampshire; Jones-Bishop, Lyne, Arundel, Jowitt; Miller, Brough; Fifita, Wood, England, Pauli, Horo, Crowther. Substitutes: Arona, G King, Kopczak, Hirst.
Warrington Wolves: Ratchford; Charnley, T King, Atkins, Mamo; Austin, Patton; Hill, D Clark, Cooper, Currie, Hughes, Philbin. Substitutes: J Clark, Tasi, Murdoch-Masila, Walker.
Referee: Ben Thaler (Wakefield)