The 2017 surprise package Wakefield Trinity continued where they left off with a good opening round win over Hull KR. Tonight they were the hosts as a Salford Red Devils, on the back of a rugby lesson at the hands of Wigan Warriors last weekend, were the visitors.
The visitors had Jack Littlejohn off the bench and in the halves with Gareth O’Brien moving to full-back, Logan Tomkins had a place on the bench. The only change for the home side was Craig Huby returning on the bench in the place of prop-forward Keegan Hirst.
A home win would send Trinity to the top of the table but Red Devils coach Ian Watson was sending his troops out with the sole aim of securing their first win of the season.
The Red Devils were playing in their sky blue and navy away kit but it was the all white of the home side who bossed the opening exchanges and Scott Grix scored the opening try after five minutes, off a precise Jacob Miller pass, after steady pressure on the Devils line. Liam Finn added the extras two for a 6-0 lead.
Salford got themselves back into the game and had a couple of opportunities to get over the Wakefield line but great last ditch defence kept them at bay. There was little other than the six points to choose between the two sides.
On thirty-one Robert Lui prevented a Jacob Miller try as he held the ball off the ground in-goal. It was the Red Devils turn to defend with everything they had and they kept Trinity at bay for three repeat sets of six.
On thirty-six Trinity should have got their second after a good fast break downfield but when Salford fouled in the tackle they opted to take the two points off the boot of Finn for an 8-0 half time lead. The game was as tight as a drum.
Four minutes into the second half Pauli Pauli put the ball to ground with the line Salford begging. Two minutes ater and Jake Bibby went close before Robert Lui went blind side from acting half back to dive over from five metres unchallenged. Gareth O’Brien was unable to add the extra two from the touchline.
On fifty-two Niall Evalds drew Salford level when he finished off a right to left width of the field passing move to take the final ball from Junior Sau to cross on the overlap. O’Brien pulled his conversion wide of the uprights and the scores were tied up at 8-8, but it was the Red Devils who had the wind in their sails.
As the game enetered the last twenty minutes it was set up for a grandstand finish.
On sixty-three a Ryan Hampshire chip kick was collected brilliantly by Miller who dove over the line in the act of catching to ground by the sticks to re-establish the Trinity lead. Finn added the conversion for 14-8.
On seventy-five Scott Grix put in a crucial last ditch tackle on Bibby to stop the Salford winger from scoring.
With one minute remaining Chris Welham spun out of the tackle and lunged for the line to stretch over for Salford’s third try of the night. On the full time hooter Gareth O’Brien missed with his touchline conversion attempt and left his side two points short of a draw.
This was a brutal encounter which will leave both sides counting bruises and sprain in the warm down tomorrow morning. The treatment tables are likely to be full as neither side would give the other any quarter. A Liam Finn goal was all that separated the two sides and while Trinity probably just deserved the two points it was a brave effort by the Red Devils who outscored their opposition by three tries to two.
Wakefield have gone top of the pile with tonights win, and Salford and still left hunting their first victory of the season.
Trinity: Grix (T), Jones-Bishop, Lyne, Tupou, Johnstone, Miller (T), Finn (3G), Fifita, Wood, England, Ashurst, Horo, Arona. Subs: Kirmond, Pauli, Huby, Hampshire.
Red Devils: O’Brien, Bibby, Welham, Sa’u, Evalds (T), Lui (T), Littlejohn, Mossop, Wood, Tasi, Jones, Hauraki, McCarthy.Subs:Kopczak, Tomkins, Burgess, Nakubuwai.
Referee: James Child.