pictures Eddie Whitham
WARRINGTON Wolves survived a late Wakefield fightback to register their sixth win of the season, 34-32 at Belle Vue.
Though at times the Wolves threatened to run away with the game, and perhaps even get the 26 point win they needed to go top of the ladder, Wakefield wouldn’t go away and they came desperately short to an astonishing late comeback.
Four tries in 13 minutes in the final quarter threatened to usurp what had been a 22 point deficit, but Danny Brough’s final conversion shaved the wrong side of the post and in a dramatic finale, Warrington just held out.
Missing Tom Johnstone, Bill Tupou and Matty Ashurst from a potent left edge, things could hardly have got off to a worse start for Trinity, who conceded the game’s opening try inside five minutes.
It came down the re-shuffled left side, although it was more about the attacking play than the defensive efforts, as Toby King reached up to claim Dec Patton’s cross-field kick to score, perhaps the unfamiliar relationship between the Wakefield players on that side contributing to mis-communication under the ball.
The second try came five minutes later, Josh Charnley crossing in the corner after the Wolves shifted the ball right and when Chris Hill powered over to make it 18-0 after just 13 minutes, it looked like being a long night for the hosts, who entered the game celebrating the news that the club had completed the purchase of their Belle Vue home.
Warrington’s momentum was curbed by a controversial decision that denied Jake Mamo a try. Ben Currie had hit a gap in the Wakefield defence as a dummy runner in front of Patton, sucking in Danny Brough to make the tackle as Patton passed the ball left to Mamo, but that was surprisingly ruled to be obstruction.
Wakefield weren’t going to ask twice and they went up the other end and got themselves on the board, Brough delaying a pass nicely to allow Ryan Hampshire to nip through a gap and over the try line.
That gave Trinity a platform, though they would end the half 26-6 down after Blake Austin’s try and a Stefan Ratchford penalty shortly before the hooter.
There was little to hint at what was to follow, Ratchford nudging over an early second half penalty after a big Ryan Atkins break, and though David Fifita pulled a try back, Charnley’s second in the corner gave the Wolves what looked like a match-winning 34-12 advantage.
When Kyle Wood darted over on 64 minutes, it looked little more consolation, and even when he went over again three minutes later, a comeback didn’t look on the cards.
But as the noise ramped up, Wakefield grew in confidence, they came within a whisker of forcing golden point extra time.
Max Jowitt was found wide open with an offload in the left corner on 75 minutes, and off the back of a penalty, Trinity were piggybacked up the pitch and Joe Arundel took a ball to cross the line.
It was wide out and it looked like Brough’s conversion was going over, but it just drifted wide, perhaps even skimming the post on its way through.
There was still time on the clock for more drama, Ratchford knocking on a high kick with seconds to go and though that gave a few extra tackles on the line, even a Fifita grubber kick through couldn’t pinch the points.