Away / 13.04.2012 / 20:00 / Headingley Carnegie
Wakefield’s cup hopes ended at the first hurdle as they were outplayed in the second half by last year’s cup runners up.
But it was one-way traffic in the second forty minutes as Zak Hardaker (2), Danny McGuire, Ben Jones-Bishop and Paul McShane ensured the Rhinos passage into the next round with a late Isaac John score mere consolation for Trinity.
Richard Agar brought back a number of the players he rested against Wigan Warriors with Richard Mathers, Dean Collis, Danny Kirmond, Tim Smith, Ben Cockayne and Andy Raleigh all in the side as Isaac John and Vince Mellars dropped to the replacements bench.
The Wildcats showed their intent in defence early on as Paul Aiton made his mark on Rob Burrow whose game lasted a matter of minutes as he was forced off with what developed into a heavily bruised eye.
Wakefield invited the hosts into their own 20 metre zone early on with some handling errors but a combination of Leeds fumbles and some determined Wildcats defence saw off the early threat.
With ball in hand the visitors showed they had the potential to cause Leeds problems with Peter Fox sent clear before a Collis knock-on and Kirmond going within inches of the line with a barnstorming run.
The opening score of an eventful opening quarter came on 20 minutes when Smith put Amor in under the sticks with Leeds a man light as Paul McShane was on his haunches.
After Wood was snappled around the ankles with the line at his mercy, the Rhinos cleared their end and were awarded a penalty late in the set which marched the Wildcats back towards their own line.
With no interchanges used by the Wildcats at this point it was a tired attempt at a tackle from Raleigh that allowed Bailey to get over.
This didn’t knock the Wildcats off their stride and the irrepressible Kirmond wouldn’t be stopped 8 minutes shy of half-time, cutting back in towards the sticks and carrying two Rhinos tacklers with him as he reached out over the line.
There was no keeping the skipper out of the game and after his altercation with Sinfield, Bailey bravely came piling in on Kirmond’s blindside and the Wildcats were let off their own line by a needless penalty conceded by the prop.
After weathering late pressure the Wildcats entered the half-time break with a slender lead.
They started the second period with a caution that hadn’t been there in their first half showing and Leeds were soon pressing the Wildcats line with no sign of the errors that littered their first half showing.
McGuire was the first man in at the start of the second half after Brett Delaney created a hole for himself with a lateral run before offloading to Clarkson who shrugged off the attentions of Fox and fed the Rhinos scrum-half.
It was back-to-back tries shortly after as Ian Kirke broke the defensive line to leave the Wildcats reeling and when the ball was worked into the hands of Hardaker, he showed fleet of foot to jink back inside and score.
The game had been turned on its head in the space of a couple of minutes and although Wakefield threatened when Fox broke before his attempted offload went forward, the Super League champions turned the screw.
After the sides exchanged errors close to the Wildcats line it was the typically controlled boot of Kevin Sinfield that picked out Ryan Hall and he patted the ball back for Hardaker to go over.
Even at that stage it looked the decisive score with the Wildcats struggling for any field position with Ablett, McShane and Jones-Bishop all taking advantage of a tiring Wakefield defence.
John entered the fray late on and got over for the final score of the match by taking a good offload from Paul Sykes but the Wildcats did little celebrating as their road to Wembley ended before it had really began.
Rhinos: Webb, Jones-Bishop, Ablett, Hardaker, Hall, Sinfield, McGuire, Leuluai, Burrow, Peacock, Clarkson, Delaney, Bailey. Replacements: Kirke, McShane, Griffin, Smith.
Wildcats: Mathers, Fox, Sykes, Collis, Cockayne, Washbrook, Smith, Raleigh, Wood, Amor, Kirmond, Walshaw, Aiton. Replacements: John, Wilkes, James, Mellars.
Referee: Richard Silverwood