IT IS an indication of how much standards have improved at Wakefield Trinity that coach Chris Chester could see his team score 44 points in a crucial win and admit afterwards to being “disappointed” with the performance.
The 44-22 victory over bottom club Widnes Vikings – in a replay of a game which was snowed off three months ago – lifted Trinity four points clear of ninth-placed Catalans Dragons and a third successive season in the Super-8s seems assured.
But Wakefield were matched point for point in the second half, after leading 22-0 at the interval and Chester was far from impressed by his side’s defensive effort over the final 40 minutes.
It was Widnes’s 11th successive league defeat, a new club record and Chester felt Trinity should have win by a bigger margin.
“I’ve let the players know we need to be a lot more ruthless defensively,” he said.
“They got too many easy tries and we came up with some poor individual decisions and some pretty average contact in the second half.
“We got the two points and that’s what we wanted, but I’m disappointed with the way we approached that second half.”
Chester said the unhappiness extended into Trinity’s changing room.
The coach added: “The lads are disappointed themselves.
“They were a bit deflated at the end of the game. They expect better standards than we had in that second half.
“Having said that, I thought the first half – at 22-0 – was probably the best 40 minutes we’ve had defensively.
“They asked us quite a lot of questions on our tryline and we came up with some really good decisions.
“That kind of flipped on its head in the second half.
“It was disappointing to concede 22 points, but the positive is we got the win.”
Widnes were competitive early on, but back-to-back tries put Trinity in control.
After 18 minutes the deadlock was broken through a trademark try by Tom Johnstone, the winger’s pace and footwork bamboozling Widnes’s defence from well inside his own half.
Then Tinirau Arona skittled defenders aside on a powerful run and on the next play Ben Jones-Bishop scooted over after making a fine catch from Jacob Miller’s cross kick.
Widnes heads dropped after Jones-Bishop’s try and Trinity added another 12 points before the break.
Miller and Max Jowitt created a try for the impressive Bill Tupou, then Ryan Hampshire’s kick was collected by Batchelor and his off-load sent Reece Lyne over.
Batchelor converted all but the first touchdown and Tupou’s second try – just three minutes after the resumption – ensured there would be no game-turning fightback.
The visitors broke their duck through a diving finish by Stefan Marsh and Danny Walker barged over from close range, Tom Gilmore converting, after Batchelor, who finished with five goals, had grabbed a deserved try.
Arona touched down after Gil Dudson and Gilmore failed to deal with Miller’s kick behind their own line, but Ryan Ince went over for Widnes’s fourth try, goaled by Gilmore to complete their scoring. They were within seconds of ‘winning’ the second half, but Lyne scored a fine try in the final moments and Hampshire added the extras.
Wakefield now have breathing space in the battle to avoid being dragged into the middle-eights Qualifiers, but Chester stressed: “I am not looking at the teams underneath us.”
He said: “We are two points off fifth now and that’s where we’re looking.
“We’re not looking at Catalans or Huddersfield or Leeds, we’re looking at Hull and the teams above them.
“We got the job done today and it puts us in a really good position.”
Wakefield Trinity: Jowitt, Johnstone, Lyne, Tupou, Jones-Bishop, Miller, Hampshire, Hirst, Randell, England, Kirmond, Ashurst, Batchelor. Substitutes: Wood, Pauli, Arona, Fifita.
Widnes Vikings: Ashall-Bott, Narsh, Runciman, Inu, Ince, Mellor, Gilmore, J Chapelhow, Heremaia, Dudson, Whitley, Hauraki, Gerrard. Substitutes: Leuluai. Wilde, Walker, T Chapelhow.
Referee: L Moore (Wigan).