posted on 3 February 2012

A late brace of tries from Peter Fox meant the Wildcats got the Stobart Super League XVII campaign off to a winning start against newcomers Widnes Vikings.

Richard Mathers and Steve Southern celebrate a second half try.

Fox’s late double salvo added gloss to a deserved win which included tries for Ali Lauitiiti, Richard Mathers and Andy Raleigh but was underpinned by a fantastic first half defensive effort.

The Vikings supporters went home disappointed despite scores for Danny Craven, Patrick Ah Van and Hep Cahill as the i-Pitch held its first competitive game to mixed reviews from the Wildcats players.

Wakefield came out firing early on as the Vikings made a nervy start with Ben Cockayne putting a foot in touch as he went for the corner, the video refereeing rightly adjudicating against the former Hull KR man.

The Vikings eventually settled and 12 minutes in the home crowd got the try they craved as Craven grubbered in behind the defensive line and as Mathers looked to slap the ball dead, the Widnes full-back nipped in to dot the ball down.

This gave the Vikings the impetus they needed and with the home crowd in full voice they peppered the Wildcats defensive line with the visitors withstanding three successive sets at one point.

Denis Betts’ side were dominating field position but found a Wildcats side with a desire to defend their line, epitomised by Paul Aiton who was a shining light in the first half for the under pressure visitors.

Agar introduced Oliver Wilkes and Paul Johnson from the bench and almost instantly their go forward put the Wildcats within striking distance and a well disguised short ball from Isaac John put Lauitiiti in for the score.

It was the Wildcats defence that impressed in the remainder of the half but ultimately the weight of pressure told.  Former Wildcat Frank Winterstein had a score ruled out by the video referee for a knock-on but with decisions and the bounce of the ball against Trinity they couldn’t see the half out without the line being broken.

Willie Isa made the telling pass to Ah Van who scooped up off his toes and went in a minute before the hooter.

The second half didn’t get off to the best possible start with Dean Collis forced off with a dead leg, but that aside it was a second half with the Wildcats very much in the ascendency.

When Tim Smith grubbered through it was the unlikely figure of Raleigh chasing down, winning the battle for the ball and getting over the line as eventually given by the video referee.

When John added the extras the sides were all square, but the Wildcats again had the video referee on their side when the ball took a horrendous bounce as Fox and Ah Van chased a loose ball close to the line, the England international was pulled back by the shirt to let Stefan Marsh in to seemingly score, but the infringement  was spotted and the Wildcats escaped.

With indiscipline creeping into the Vikings game, Wakefield were the side looking the stronger so it was very much against the run of play when Cahil charged down Kyle Wood’s kick before swooping on the loose ball to outpace the covering defence to race in from 50 metres.

But Wildcats showed their strength of character to respond almost immediately when Smith’s pass found Mathers with space and options to his right, the full-back opted to go it alone and it was the right choice as he crossed the whitewash.

John again converted to give the Wildcats a lead that they never looked like surrendering.

Despite losing Lauitiiti to cramp and being forced into a reshuffle, it had minimal impact on the increasingly influential John and Smith, the latter showing dancing feet to leave Vikings defenders floundering in his wake as he went over the line.

Cross eventually got the time in the sin bin his persistent infringing deserved and with a man extra the Wildcats ruthlessly killed off the game with two clinical finishes from Fox.

Wildcats: Mathers, Fox, Collis, Mellars, Cockayne, John, Smith, Amor, Aiton, Southern, Lauitiiti, Kirmond, Wasbrook. Replacements: Wood, Wilkes, Raleigh, Johnson.

Vikings: Craven, Dean, Marsh, Isa, Ah Van, Clarke, Hanbury, Cross, Moore, Kavanagh, Winterstein, Allen, Cahill. Replacements: White, Pickersgill, Haggerty, Mullally.

This is Wakefield. Together We Are Stronger.

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