Wakefield Trinity Wildcats 29, Hull FC 6
The Wildcats’ split personality came to the surface again at Belle Vue on Saturday night. Just six days after what Head Coach John Kear described as their ‘worst performance of the season’ against Hull KR they blew Hull FC away in this Round 21 Engage Super League meeting.
There were quite clearly some tensions as the players started the game, but as the match progressed you could see their confidence and self-belief returning.
Before the game came the news that besides Dale Ferguson and Sam Obst being ruled out with injury, in-form winger Damien Blanch was not able to play due to a leg injury. He was replaced in the team line-up by Sean Gleeson, who had not figured in the side for the last two games.
As they did against Crusaders two weeks earlier, the Wildcats dominated the game for long spells and, thankfully, while Wakefield were building their game they were assisted by Hull FC’s error rate which allowed the Wildcats to escape from several tricky situations.
Critically it was Trinity’s defensive capabilities that provided the foundation for the win. Hull FC fashioned just one try in the game and, given the amount of possession they enjoyed, the Wildcats did well to hold them out.
There was a spell during the second half when Hull FC enjoyed four sets of tackles within ten metres of the Wildcat try line and couldn’t breech the determined Wakefield defence and, for the second time in a fortnight, Wakefield took most of the chances that were offered or created.
The best looking try came in the 72nd minute. Richard Horne’s pass went to ground within the Wakefield 20 metre area. Daryl Millard gathered it. Evaded two tackles and then in classic centre style swept imperiously up field for a great solo try using great footwork, pace and sheer determination to see off the remainder of the Hull cover.
The determining point in the match occurred in the 58th minute. Trinity were leading 18-6 when Ben Jeffries coolly slotted over a drop goal. This meant that Hull FC needed to score three times and given the determined nature of the Wakefield defence that looked an extremely difficult target.
Wakefield fans could have been forgiven for thinking the worst when Hull FC took the lead in the 12th minute after the defence failed to hold a high kick by Shaun Berrigan. After the ball had bounced kindly centre Jordan Turner gathered and went over for a try that was converted by Danny Tickle.
But four minutes later Wakefield pulled level. Julien Rinaldi was held up near the posts and the Wildcats switched the ball left. Paul Cooke, playing against one of his former clubs, then used his footwork skills and power to break through for a try that he also converted.
It was a proverbial arm wrestle until the 29th minute when Rinaldi, who is proving to be a great signing for the Wildcats, jetted over the Hull line for a try but Cooke missed with the conversion attempt.
But the big stand-off, who was in great personal form against the first of his two previous professional clubs, made up for that miss in the 34th minute when he booted over a penalty for a high tackle on Ben Jeffries.
Video referee Ben Thaler’s eagle eye allowed Wildcats to retain their six-point lead when after Lee Radford had scored what looked to be a try on Wakefield’s far right flank two minutes before halftime and he ruled it out because Hull had failed to play-the-ball correctly in the build up. The moment of crisis had passed.
Big Wildcat prop Charlie Leaeno is fast becoming a Trinity folk hero because there was a massive reaction from the Wildcat fans following his 53rd minute when he charged in from short range to score a try and Cooke tacked on the goal points.
The 58th minute Jeffries drop goal was the boost that his teammates had been seeking and the Wakefield team played with far more freedom and fluidity from that point.
Millard’s long –range try was converted by Cooke and the finishing touches to the game were delivered by Jason Demetriou. He intercepted a loose Hull pass 30 metres out and his arcing run took him round Hull’s full-back Jordan Tansey for an uncoverted try.
Wildcats: Blaymire; Gleeson, Murphy, Millard, Morton; Cooke, Jeffries; Leaeno, Rinaldi, Moore, Demetriou, Johnson, Morrison. Interchange (all used): Korkidas, King, Henderson, Leo-Latu.
Hull FC: Tansey; Whiting, Turner, Yeaman, Briscoe; Washbrook, Berrigan; Dowes, Houghton, Cusack, Manu, Tickle, Fitzgibbon. Interchange (all used): Lauaki, Hall, Horne.
Referee: Steve Ganson (RFL). Halftime: 12-6. Attendance: 5,366