posted on 12 August 2012

Paul Sykes kept Wakefield’s play-off hopes alive with a dramatic drop-goal winner with the last kick of the game against St. Helens.

Paul Sykes scored a drop goal with the last act of the game.

After two failed attempts in the final few minutes, Sykes held his nerve with less than 20 seconds left on the clock to slot over a 15 metre goal and send the Rapid Solicitors Stadium into raptures.

Lee Smith and Danny Kirmond had earlier scored two tries each with Andy Raleigh and Kyle Wood both getting over the whitewash.

Saints had a Francis Meli hat-trick to add to scores for Tony Puletua (2) and Paul Wellens.

Richard Agar recalled Oliver Wilkes after his suspension in place of Matt James who had a calf problem, whilst Academy graduate Danny Cowling made a first team debut in place of the banned Dean Collis.

The Wildcats couldn’t have got off to a worse start as Saints worked an overlap on the short side on just the second play of the game to send Meli racing clear, and after he turned Richard Mathers inside-out he had Puletua in support to open the scoring after less than 30 seconds.

With confidence flowing through the side after the recent wins, the response from the hosts was an impressive one.  Tim Smith’s well weighted grubber kick earned a repeat set via a drop-out and after a few drives to get field position, the ball was worked left and Mathers delayed the pass perfectly to send Lee Smith diving over.

Saints sporadically threatened with only two try saving tackles in one set from Kirmond sparing the Wildcats.  An error from the visitors in their own half offered the Wildcats the platform to strike and Tim Smith’s reverse grubber kick was chased down by Raleigh to drop on it over the line, although there was more than a suspicion of offside.

Trinity were then guilty of an error of their own as Ali Lauitiiti spilled the ball on halfway, and after working through their tackles, Jonny Lomax stabbed a short kick in behind the Wildcats defence with Meli and Wellens on hand to dot down, the winger taking the honours.

Richard Agar’s side were controlling things at this stage and with St. Helens guilty of a succession of high tackles, they found themselves pinned back on their own try line once again.  They were gathered behind the sticks after one such infringement and when Tim Smith and Sykes injected some real pace into the attack, Kirmond was sent bulldozing over.

Kirmond was in again a couple of moments later when the red-hot Tim Smith put in an outstanding grubber and the skipper was hunting it down to get the score.

The Wildcats had been squeaky clean with their discipline in the first half-hour, but successive penalties – one of which when in possession – gave Saints an invite that they didn’t turn down as Wellens took Lomax’s inside ball to glide over.

Wakefield made a bright start to the second half but slowly Saints worked their way back into it and reaped their rewards.  The game got a bit too quick for the Wildcats at the ruck and a gap appeared for Paul Clough to make the break and fire out the long pass to Meli who waltzed in.

Boos were ringing around the Rapid Solicitors Stadium after that score with the home fans convinced of a forward pass, and they intensified when Saints knocked the ball out in the act of making a tackle, went up field and ultimately scored through Wellens, with the Wildcats fans and players incensed.

The home side were in a bit of a hole and needed something to stop the Saints flow and it was provided by Cockayne who got out of a dangerous position to race forty metres and put the Wildcats on the front foot.  Lauitiiti took the next carry and after getting his arms free, Lee Smith knew to be on the big man’s shoulder to take an offload and set off on a weaving run that took him from the left centre position to scoring in the right hand corner.

Sykes missed the conversion to leave the scores locked at 26-apiece, a scoreline that held until twelve minutes from time when Wood picked up at dummy half and scampered his way to the line for an excellent individual effort.

The see-saw game was never going to be done there and Meli capped an incisive move by coming on off his touchline to score and give Makinson an easy kick to level.

Saints may have had the momentum but the Wildcats held their nerve, pouncing on three Saints errors in their own half to work drop-goal opportunities for Sykes and Tim Smith, both off the mark.

But one more error from Saints presented a third chance and Sykes kept his cool to record an incredible win for the Wildcats.


Mathers, Fox, Cowling, L. Smith, Cockayne, Sykes, T. Smith, Amor, Ellis, Raleigh, Lauitiiti, Kirmond, Washbrook. Replacements: Wood, Wilkes, Mariano, Johnson.


Wellens, Makinson, Shenton, Jones, Meli, Hohaia, Lomax, Perry, Roby, Laffranchi, Puletua, Flannery, Flanagan. Replacements: McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Clough, Dixon, Gaskell.

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