Wakefield went into the Stobart Super League play-off places with one round remaining after grinding out a win over Widnes Vikings.
In a turgid contest littered with errors, it was the Wildcats who held their nerve to come out on top thanks to a winning try from Danny Kirmond three minutes from time, adding to earlier scores for Kyle Amor and Ali Lauitiiti.
Widnes had pushed the Wildcats all the way with Rhys Hanbury a thorn in their side, the scrum-half scoring two tries as Paddy Flynn went over for a third.
Following Bradford’s defeat to Hull FC and Wigan’s win over Hull KR, the Wildcats fate is in their own hands as they prepare to travel to Salford next Saturday with a win needed to guarantee a play-off place.
Richard Agar named an unchanged line-up for the Wildcats as they looked to enter the play-off places following Bradford’s heavy loss to Hull FC.
It was a scrappy and understandably nervy opening from the hosts, a Sykes 40/20 the highlight of an error strewn first few sets and in the first cohesive bit of play from either side, the Vikings took the lead.
Hanbury fed former Wildcat Frank Winterstein, wrapped around the back of him to get the ball back and accelerated into a gap, holding off the last gasp efforts of Mathers to get the ball down in the corner.
Wakefield were quick to respond, first pouncing on a Widnes error and then earning a penalty that took them into opposition territory. The visitors appeared to have defended the set well and on the last were up in the face of Tim Smith to deny him the chance to kick, but unflustered he bulleted a trademark pass to Kyle Amor he hit the gap and was unstoppable from ten metres.
After that, there was little to even remotely get excited about for the crowd, Dean Collis going off injured after getting his head in an awkward position in a tackle and a Wilkes break that was lacking in support the only real things of note in a half full of errors.
It did end though on a moment of individual brilliance, Hanbury taking a Winterstein offload before kicking over Mathers, regathering and going over just before the hooter.
The Wildcats needed the first score of the second half to lift the crowd and they duly got it 12 minutes in. After successive penalties, the Wildcats worked themselves into a good position and although Mariano had the ball clattered loose in a tackle, Mathers picked up, spotted a gap and reached out for the line to dot down.
Sykes made a half-break shortly after to sense that the Wildcats had found their spark, but slow play the balls made the game a turgid one to watch and it got harder to take for the Wildcats faithful soon after as Paddy Flynn waltzed in with a quarter of the game left to the Vikings 16-10 up.
It was a war of attrition and the side that committed the fewest errors was likely to get home. The Vikings inexplicably knocked on in an attacking position and were made to pay. Tim Smith put Mariano clear with a delightful short ball and he kept his cool to send the supporting Lauitiiti in for the levelling score.
Wakefield were soon back under pressure though and when Danny Craven sent a high hanging kick the way of Fox the winger had two Vikings bearing down on them. Not only did he take it, he raced 60 metres, fed inside to Wood who weaved inside only to be taken high by Paddy Flynn. He was sent to the sin bin and Sykes slotted over a straightforward penalty from 25 metres.
Hanbury was soon lining up a shot at goal of his own after interference at the play of the ball, and he too made no mistake from 35 metres with 8 minutes left on the clock.
The crowd were on edge and soon they were in raptures. Smith and Mathers combined for the full-back to break, he helped it on to Wood who seemed to blow a three on one opportunity with just the full-back to beat, but he bounced away from the tackle, launched the ball left to Kirmond who had the power and pace to get over in the corner.
It proved to be the match winning score as the Wildcats fans counted down the final ten seconds before erupting at the final hooter.
WILDCATS: Mathers, Fox, Collis, L.Smith, Cockayne, Sykes, T.Smith, Amor, Ellis, Raleigh, Lauitiiti, Kirmond (c), Washbrook. Replacements: Wood, Wilkes, Mariano, Johnson.
VIKINGS: Briscoe, Flynn, Marsh, Phelps, Isa, Craven, Hanbury, Pickersgill, Clark (c), Kite, Winterstein, Allen, Cahill. Replacements: Davies, Kavanagh, Gerrard, McShane.