Wakefield Trinity have had their fair share of hardship throughout the Super League era. For over 20 years one of the sport’s most famous clubs have been dwarfed by the success of bigger, richer teams such as Leeds, St Helens and Wigan. But it is those dark days that arguably make matches like these more special for a club progressing the right way.
The Easter period, in which the players are forced to put their bodies on the line twice in three days, shows no signs of changing any time soon. And if any club would have been dreading this time of the year, it would have been Wakefield, given they faced Leeds with over a dozen players out injured.
Well over half of the club’s salary cap are on the sidelines. Yet Wakefield defied those problems with a performance that underlined the spirit and attitude they possess under Chris Chester as they further reinforced their spot inside the play-off places.
“This is a team who will never get beaten on effort,” said Chester, who is one of the best coaches in the British game. “That’s my best win as coach. I’m very proud of this group.”
Leeds, of course, are not what they have been and are currently joint bottom. The two tries Wakefield scored in the first half came from long range when the visitors tossed away possession to allow Lee Kershaw to mark his Super League debut with a try. Reece Lyne followed suit eight minutes later to make it 12-0. Leeds certainly enjoyed the majority of possession in the first half and few could have complained when tries from Liam Sutcliffe and Brett Ferres made it 12-12 at the break.
The Leeds coach, Dave Furner, was left to reflect on a period in the second half that cost them the game and ensured a ninth defeat in 12 games for the eight-times champions.
“We need a bit more control from our senior players,” was how Furner assessed the passage of play in which Wakefield scored 14 unanswered points in the third quarter.
Two penalties from the boot of Ryan Hampshire put them ahead, before two wonderful team tries. First, Ben Jones-Bishop raced past Tui Lolohea before a break from Hampshire led to Max Jowitt – one of several homegrown products who is blossoming into a top-flight talent – scoring.
Trailing 26-12, Leeds deserve some credit for mounting a comeback and Matt Parcell darted through with eight minutes remaining. However, as Lolohea crossed on the hooter, time had escaped Leeds again.
For Wakefield, who have lost several tight games, this was another reminder that a play-off push for one of Super League’s perennial strugglers is certainly a reality for them this season.
Wakefield Jowitt; Jones-Bishop, Lyne, Caton-Brown, Kershaw; Reynolds, Hampshire; Kopczak, Crowther, Arona, Kirmond, Horo, King. Interchange Hirst, Pauli, Fifita, Annakin.
Tries Kershaw, Lyne, Jones-Bishop, Jowitt. Goals Hampshire 5.
Leeds Lolohea; Briscoe, Watkins, Newman, Handley; Sutcliffe, Myler; Peteru, Dwyer, Albert, Ferres, Trout, Merrin. Interchange Singleton, Donaldson, Oledzki, Parcell.
Tries Sutcliffe, Ferres, Parcell. Goals Sutcliffe 3.
Referee C Kendall. Attendance 6,785.