Wakefield Wildcats 2012 season has come to an end after a valiant effort saw Richard Agar’s men lose 42-20 at Headingley to the Leeds Rhinos.
The reigning champions just proved too strong for the visitors after seven tries, including a hat-trick from Ben Jones-Bishop and a landmark try for Danny McGuire proved the difference.
As the teams were announced there was positive news for Trinity as Ali Lauitiiti returned and took his place in the back-row with Frankie Mariano dropping to the bench as Kyle Trout was the unlucky man to not feature. Meanwhile for the Rhinos the headline news was the return of talisman McGuire along with the return of Shaun Lunt and Ryan Bailey.
Despite starting the game under pressure the Wildcats opened the scoring through winger Ben Cockayne. Half-back Tim Smith who has been the architect of the majority of Trinity’s attacking play this season produced a rocket pass to the number 5 who raced over the whitewash.
Minutes later the visitors found themselves behind after the champions got away with a blatant forward pass. Centre Kallum Watkins broke free and passed inside to Rob Burrow and the hooker sped free, albeit off a suspicious pass.
The teams exchanged scores once again before the break as former Leeds man Lee Smith scored after some neat play between himself, Tim Smith and Ben Cockayne before Burrow scored his second of the evening on the half time hooter to leave the Wildcats trailing 12-10 at the break.
Agar’s half time team talk had an immediate effect as another former Leeds man Richard Mathers scored on the back of a break by Mariano and with Sykes converting it put the visitors back in front once again.
Unfortunately it did not take long for Brian McDermott’s team to grow their momentum as their class and experience shone through with 18 unanswered points which was fully deserved after extended pressure on the Wildcats line. A series of drop outs and pressure finally told when Ben Jones-Bishop scored off a superb kick by Kevin Sinfield.
McGuire’s 200th Super League try soon followed, in the process breaking Keith Senior’s record and Zak Hardaker joined the action after Andy Raleigh knocked on just short of the hosts line the full-back waltzed his way through the Wildcats players before bursting 90 metres to score.
The game looked to be over but the returning Lauitiiti scored after a Tim Smith grubber kick turned scrappy in the in goal area but the Kiwi was quickest to react by tapping the ball down and after Sykes missed the conversion the game was in the balance at 30-20.
The game progressed into the final 10 minutes and Danny Washbrook found himself in a great position after punching a hole in the Leeds line on half way and breaking clear but with Cockayne on the inside he couldn’t find him as the tiredness showed. That effort proved to be the end of the game as a contest as Jones-Bishop finished the game with two tries and completed his hat-trick in the process.
Although Wakefield were beaten 42-20 they did so in front of a huge travelling support who stayed and gave them a heroes reception after giving their all in the defeat at Headingley in what was ultimately the last game of their 2012 season. A year all involved with the Wildcats can look back on with fondness.
Rhinos: Hardaker, Jones-Bishop, Watkins, Ablett, Hall, Sinfield (c), McGuire, Leuluai, Burrow, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Delaney, Bailey. Subs: Clarkson, Ward, Lunt, Griffin.
Wildcats: Mathers, Fox, Collis, L.Smith, Cockayne, Sykes, T.Smith, Amor, Ellis, Raleigh, Lauitiiti, Kirmond (c), Washbrook. Subs: Mariano, Wilkes, Wood, Johnson.
This is Wakefield. Together We Are Stronger.