Wakefield Wildcats run of three successive wins came to an end on Monday night as Leeds Rhinos shaded the visitors 44-40 in a thriller at Headingley.
The rearranged fixture went one way then the other in an attacking orientated derby in Leeds as Kevin Sinfield’s boot was the difference after both sides scored seven tries.
After surrendering an early 12 point lead through long distance kick returns Trinity found their feet as Ben Cockayne and Tim Smith leveled the game up after scoring tries in quick
succession. From then Richard Agar’s men lead for much of the game a Dean Collis collected a Richard Mathers kick to burst through untouched and narrow the angle for Paul Sykes who made it three out of three with the boot.
Mathers’ good work was then wasted as an uncharacteristic mistake by the former Rhino knocked the ball on after a kick through by Jamie Jones-Buchanan for the second-rower to pick up and score and therefore tie the game at 18-a-piece. Once again Trinity were the ones with the territory and they made that pay after a hero of Headingley Ali Lauitiiti
barged his way over to score on the ground where earned his place amongst the Leeds history books. In a surreal aftermath both the Wakefield and Leeds fans started to sing the Kiwi’s name to prove his importance to both clubs, past and present.
With the clock ticking down towards half time Ben Jones-Bishop crossed the whitewash for the second time of the evening after neat work by Stevie Ward and Carl Ablett set the winger free with Sinfield adding the extras. That meant the game was tied at 24-24 as the
coaches produced their half time team talks in a game where defence struggled to cope with the potent attacking threat from both sides.
The second half started in a similar fashion in a topsy-turvy affair at the home of the Super League champions. Minutes after going close Kyle Trout leapt over the line to score and give the Wildcats a six point lead after Sykes kept up his fine work with his boot. The next try was a crucial one and that went the way of the blue and amber as Weller Hauraki scored on the back of a mistake from kick off and a penalty to once again bring the game back level.
Winger Jones-Bishop then went on to record his hat-trick for the night and make it five tries for the weekend after his double for England Knights after collecting a kick through by stand-off Danny McGuire. Soon after Leeds skipper Sinfield decided to extend their lead with a penalty after a debatable call from referee Richard Silverwood went the
way of the home side which put the hosts 38-30 in front with the clock ticking down.
It was vital Agar’s men got the next try and that is what happened after prop Oliver Wilkes made it a sixth different try scorer on the night for the visitors after good work by the lively Tim Smith sent the number 8 over. That excitement was short lived though as Carl Ablett shrugged off the Trinity defense to score in the corner to all but end hopes of an upset with the ever reliable Sinfield slotting over the two points to make it 44-36 with a matter of minutes left.
However, the drama was far from over as impressive work by the once again stand out Paul Aiton and Dean Collis set Peter Fox free to score but with just four points in the game it was decided they would forfeit the kick and go for another try with just 80 seconds remaining on the clock. With one set available to try and snatch victory from Brian McDermott and his troops the Wildcats tried valiantly but came up just short in a wonderful offensive performance.
Despite Wakefield’s defensive frailties the Wildcats faithful went home proud of the effort, determination and attacking prowess on show. The defeat leaves Trinity in 11th place in the table and just one point behind Salford ahead of the trip to Odsal to face Bradford Bulls on Sunday.
Leeds Rhinos: Zak Hardaker, Ben Jones-Bishop, Carl Ablett, Brett Delaney, Ryan Hall; Kevin Sinfield, Danny McGuire; Kylie Leuluai, Rob Burrow, Darrell Griffin, Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Ryan Bailey.
Replacements: Stevie Ward, Shaun Lunt, Weller Hauraki, Jamie Peacock.
Wakefield Wildcats: Richard Mathers, Peter Fox, Dean Collis, Vince Mellars, Ben Cockayne; Paul Sykes, Tim Smith; Kyle Amor, Paul Aiton, Andy Raleigh, Ali Lauitiiti, Lucas Walshaw, Danny Washbrook.
Replacements: Kyle Wood, Oliver Wilkes, Steve Southern, Kyle Trout.
Referee: Richard Silverwood.
This is Wakefield. Together We Are Stronger.