Chester’s hopes of leading a team to Wembley for the second successive year were shattered when Wakefield were crushed 56-12 by Warrington Wolves in Saturday’s Challenge Cup semi-final.
Warrington, beaten by Chester’s Hull KR at the same stage last season, will go on to meet Hull in the final at Wembley later this month.
Despite the semi-final result, Chester insisted it has been a successful campaign for Wakefield, who have already secured their top-flight status by qualifying for the Super-8s.
It is a far cry from last year when they lost to Championship side Leigh Centurions in the Challenge Cup and finished bottom of Super League before avoiding relegation in the sudden-death ‘million pound match’. “There’s a lot of people in that dressing room who are very disappointed,” Chester admitted after the semi-final loss.
“But we have come a long way in a short space of time.
“We have got a Super League campaign now, we’ve got seven games to look forward to and try and cause some upsets.
“Although it has been a tough day at the office, we have a lot to be proud of with what we have achieved as a group.”
Wakefield were missing eight front-line players and never looked like creating a shock, despite taking an early lead.
“We tried hard all game,” said Chester.
“It wasn’t effort that beat us, Warrington were far too good for us today.
“They were far too quick and once they get a roll on they are very hard to stop.
“We weren’t great, but I thought effort-wise they never gave in and I am a proud coach today.”
Wakefield’s absentees included front-row forwards Anthony England, Mickael Simon and Scott Anderson and Chester said: “They got a lot of joy through the middle of us.
“We are a bit depleted in the middle with personnel missing and we struggled at times to really slow down that ruck without giving any penalties away. Fair play to Warrington, they were a little bit too quick for us, a lot more patient with the ball and a lot better team from one to 17.”
Chester paid tribute to captain Danny Kirmond, who returned from a knee injury among the substitutes.
Both Kirmond and winger Ben Jones-Bishop (shoulder) are expected to miss Friday’s Super-8s opener at the other beaten semi-finalists Wigan Warriors.