WILDCATS MAINTAIN PLAY-OFF PUSH AS SYKES STRIKES AGAIN
Wakefield Wildcats blistering form has continued after a last minute Paul Sykes drop goal gave Trinity a 31-30 victory over Hull KR at MS3 Craven Park.
Both sides scored six tries in yet another see-saw game and for the second successive week half-back Sykes scored a field goal in the dying seconds to give the visitors a crucial two points.
The victory means Richard Agar’s men leapfrog the club from East Hull into ninth place in Super League after Bradford beat Huddersfield with just two games remaining of the regular season.
The Wildcats head coach had positive news leading into the game with Dean Collis returning from suspension. That was the one change to the dramatic 33-32 victory over St Helens as the impressive Danny Cowling dropped out in the right centre position.
It didn’t take the visitors long to open the scoring as former Robins favourite Ben Cockayne went over after Ali Lauitiiti broke free up the left to set the winger to race away to score.
That brought a fierce reaction from the hosts as Rovers hit-back with a trio of scores. Liam Salter started the fight-back after early Trinity pressure as Craig Sandercock’s men created space for the centre to go over, levelling the scores at 4-4.
The Robins opposite centre Graeme Horne then got on the end of an inventive piece of play as half-back Michael Dobson found David Hodgson with a sideways kick with the winger sprinting before kicking into the in-goal for Horne to race onto to give the hosts the lead. The former Huddersfield man took a bang as Richard Mathers desperately tried to save the try.
Salter then extended the lead for the red and whites after a neat interchange of passes down the right edge with Dobson adding his first conversion of the afternoon to give the hosts a 14-4 lead.
As half time grew ever closer the visitors pumped up the pressure and with seconds remaining they won a penalty but bravely chose down the option of the two points. Cockayne chose to run the ball and made good ground before the next play proved to be crucial. Tim Smith has brilliant vision to see Peter Fox free on the wing and a well weighted kick found the former KR man to score on the hooter.
Sykes’ conversion fell just short to leave Agar with much to do with his half time team talk after a disappointing first 40 minutes where Trinity trailed 14-8.
The second period started as the first had ended after a superb Cockayne kick off baffled the Robins defence resulted in a penalty for the visitors Frankie Mariano burst through the line to score.
That try was the start of an important period on the game where the Wildcats showed their dominance as two Tim Smith grubber kicks were finished off by Cockayne and the returning Collis to give the visitors a 26-14 lead.
The game could have been over after Cockayne broke free with the ball finding its way to Tim Smith who was heroically tackled just short of the try line by Dobson, a try then would have made it almost certainly 32-14.
Dobson was then at the heart of the Rovers attack and a kick through by the half-back set up a Lincoln Withers score as the hosts kept fighting back. Skipper Ben Galea then burst over to tie the game up courtesy of Dobson’s conversion.
Sandercock’s men then regained the lead, just like they did in the first half as Josh Hodgson broke free but Dobson’s conversion proved to be the last time the Craven Park faithful cheered.
With just over eight minutes remaining the Wildcats needed something to go their way and it was that man again, Tim Smith who was instrumental with the ball in hand. His grubber found its way to Kyle Wood and the lively hooker pounced on the loose ball in the in-goal to bring it level at 30-a-piece. That meant Sykes had a relatively easy conversion by his standards to give the Wildcats the lead but his conversion missed, that was far from the end of the drama though.
With under a minute remaining Trinity barnstormed their way up field and Sykes set himself back and Smith found him under pressure but the experienced number 34 only needed one chance this weekend he calmly slotted over to send the vast numbers of travelling supporters delirious at the opposite side of the ground.
It is the first time the red, white and blue have won five successive games since 2009 and leaves Agar’s men just one place and one point behind Bradford who sit in eighth position in the Super League table.
The victory also leads Trinity into a week break before their next game, a crucial home encounter with Widnes Vikings on Sunday 2nd September before finishing the season with an away trip to Salford City Reds.
Hull KR: Sheriff; Latus, Salter, Horne, D. Hodgson; Hall, Dobson; O’Hara, J. Hodgson, Taylor, Lovegrove, Galea, Griffin. Subs: Withers, Netherton, Mika, Paea.
Wakefield: Mathers; Fox, Collis, L.Smith, Cockayne; Sykes, T.Smith; Amor, Ellis, Raleigh, Lauitiiti, Kirmond, Washbrook. Subs: Wood, Mariano, Johnson, Wilkes.
This is Wakefield. Together We Are Stronger.