Wakefield Trinity were without some major stars as they looked to compete for a top-five spot against a full strength Warrington Wolves side in what was no doubt a tale of two halves.
Both Tom Johnstone and Bill Tupou had to miss this fixture through injury, with the former being unavailable for the rest of the season after rupturing his ACL last Friday against Hull FC. With Danny Kirmond suspended it adds to an ever increasing list of unavailable players.
The only change for Warrington was Joe Philbin replacing the suspended Ben Westwood after his headbutt on Morgan Escare cost him four games.
In the opening stages, Wakefield were doing their best to beat the Wolves up front but were not physical enough in defence. Warrington marched 80 metres up the field to set up a fifth tackle kick just five metres out and Toby King caught the ball unchallenged and dotted down for an easy try. Stefan Ratchford converted for an early 0-6 lead.
The Wolves were on the front foot again just a minute later after King was taken out off the ball by Jacob Miller and the visitors set up just 15 metres from the line.
The speed of Warrington’s play was just too fast for Trinity and after Blake Austin was held up, the ball was shipped to the right hand edge and Josh Charnley took advantage of the overlap to dive over in the corner. Ratchford converted from the touchline to double the lead.
The high ball continued to cause problems for Wakefield after Max Jowitt dropped Dec Patton’s bomb inside his own 10 metre line, which was then swiftly followed by a penalty after Miller was caught interfering at the play the ball.
A third try came just a moment later, as on just the second tackle in the set, Chris Hill picked his line and charged over the try-line with three Wakefield players on his back. Ratchford made it three from three from the boot and the score sat at 0-18 after just 14 minutes.
A knock-on from Ryan Hampshire inside his own ten metre line gifted the ball back to Warrington and Jake Mamo crossed the line and dotted the ball down. Ben Thaler deemed that the try was not legal due to obstruction. The TMO deemed the decision correct and the Wolves were denied.
Wakefield were determined not to let the game drift away from then though. They managed to win a penalty which set them up on the twenty metre line. Danny Brough used his handling skills to create and huge gap and he released Ryan Hampshire who pulled a score back for Trinity. Brough then converted to cut the deficit to 12.
A second Trinity try in five minutes should have followed after five Warrington penalties in a row meant that Wakefield were camped inside the ten metre line. However in the final set, Pauli Pauli was held up over the line and the home side were denied.
Despite Wakefield looking to get back into the game, their discipline, combined with Warrington’s offload game was too much for them. A Mike Cooper offload caught the defensive line off-guard and the Clark’s, Jason and Daryl linked up to put Blake Austin through a gap and dot the ball down under the posts. Ratchford converted once and Warrington led by 18 once more after 32 minutes.
The game was well and truly opening up towards the end of the first half with both sides running and passing a bit quicker. This seemed to benefit the Wolves though as Wakefield had to commit penalties to slow the play down. Danny Brough conceded one of these penalties as he interfered at the play the ball. Stefan Ratchford took the whole 80 seconds remaining of the half for his kick at goal and the full-back made it 6-26 at half-time.
HALF-TIME: Wakefield Trinity 6-26 Warrington Wolves
Warrington started the second half just as they would have liked. Ryan Atkins broke down the left hand edge and managed to win a penalty after being held down by Brough. Ratchford made it six from six with the boot and now led by 22 points.
With just under 50 minutes played, Warrington were camped on the Wakefield line. Dec Patton’s kick behind the line of the defence was touched down by Jake Mamo but for the second time of the night, the Maltese winger was denied by the TMO as it was deemed the ball touched the dead ball line as he grounded the ball.
Five minutes later, David Fifita scored to try and inspire his Wakefield side. He collected Kyle Woods pass from dummy-half and powered through the tackle of Ben Murdoch-Masila and Ratchford to score just inside the posts. Brough converted to make it 12-28.
The inspiration didn’t occur though, Ben Murdoch-Masila drew in the Wakefield defenders, allowing Blake Austin to step inside and race clear. With just Max Jowitt in front of him, the half-back passed the ball to Josh Charnley who scored in the right hand corner for his second of the night. Ratchford converted once more to keep his 100% accuracy on the night.
Wakefield won their own kick-off back and then two penalties were awarded to them, meaning that the Wolves were placed on a team-warning. The Wolves did manage to escape without a point conceded but Trinity came straight back up the field to put them under pressure once more.
It was Kyle Wood who grabbed Wakefield’s third try after he threw an outrageous dummy at hooker and scooted through the Warrington defence to score. Brough failed with his conversion this time and the score was 16-34 after 65 minutes.
A minute later, Wood scored once more as Wakefield looked to shock Wire in the final stages. A fifth tackle play, off the cuff, resulted in Reece Lyne kicking through the line twice, with Wood hacking the ball on, allowing the ball to bounce into his hands and touch down directing underneath the posts. Brough converted this time and all of a sudden the deficit was backed to 12 with 13 minutes to play.
In the 75th minute, Wakefield grabbed yet another try as their fightback continued, a powering running from the forward pack put Trinity on the front foot. Kyle Wood raced across the line, popped the ball to Joe Arundel, who offloaded to Max Jowitt who scored in the corner. Brough converted again and Warrington led by just six points heading into the last four minutes.
It didn’t take long for Wakefield to score the next try either. A penalty inside their own half was drilled deep into Warrington territory and Trinity looked to punish their opponents. Joe Arudel assisted the previous try but scored this one as he pushed to the outside of Blake Austin and stretched over the line to score. However, Brough missed the conversion attempt and with three minutes remaining, Wakefield were two points behind.
With just forty seconds remaining, Ratchford knocked on in an attempt to catch Danny Brough’s high kick. A last hurrah from Wakefield came from David Fifita who put boot to ball and hoped that Max Jowitt could reach the ball.
Josh Charnley did enough though and kicked the ball over the dead-ball line and the Wolves escaped with the two points in a tight victory.
FULL-TIME: Wakefield Trinity 32-34 Warrington Wolves.
MAN OF THE MATCH – KYLE WOOD:
The Wakefield hooker may have been on the losing side but the controlled the game brilliantly from the ruck. His quickfire double put fire in the bellies of his teammates and fully deserved to win the game.
Ryan Hampshire, Ben Jones-Bishop, Reece Lyne, Joe Arundel, Max Jowitt, Jacob Miller, Danny Brough, David Fifita, Kyle Wood, Anthony England, Pauli Pauli, Justin Horo, Jordan Crowther.
INTERCHANGES: Tirinau Arona, George King, Criag Kopczak, Keegan Hirst.
TRIES: Ryan Hampshire, David Fifita, Kyle Wood (2), Max Jowitt, Joe Arundel
GOALS: Danny Brough (4/6)
Stefan Ratchford, Josh Charnley, Toby King, Ryan Atkins, Jake Mamo, Blake Austin, Declan Patton, Chris Hill, Daryl Clark, Mike Cooper, Ben Currie, Jack Hughes, Joe Philbin.
INTERCHANGES: Jason Clark, Lama Tasi, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Danny Walker.
TRIES: Toby King, Josh Charnley (2), Chris Hill, Blake Austin
GOALS: Stefan Ratchford (7/7)
Image Source: Warrington Wolves – Twitter