If today’s encounter between relegation prospects Hull KR and Wakefield Trinity wasn’t already important enough, yesterdays shock win for the London Broncos in the south of France made it doubly so.
Just four games remain in the 2019 season and a win for either of these sides, who entered the game level on league ladder points, would be a massive step towards safety for 2020. A loss, on the other hand, would leave them deeply mired in the relegation dogfight.
KR were bolstered by the returns of Mitch Garbutt, Craig Hall, Kane Linnett and importantly Danny McGuire. Trinity gave a debut for loan signing Chris Green from Hull.
Early mistakes from both sides set the benchmark for a nervous game.
After nine minutes Chris Atkin went close for KR but was held up over the line. On the next play Ben Jones-Bishop picked up a loose pass but was tackled on half way as he raced for the line. On the last tackle of the set Craig Kopczak was the provider for Jacob Miller to go over for the opening try of the game. Danny Brough added the conversion for Trinity to take a 6-0 lead after ten minutes.
A Brough penalty on seventeen minutes extended the lead to 8-0 as KR tried to regroup.
Awful Hull KR defending allowed Ben Jones-Bishop in for the second Wakefield try on twenty as he found masses of space out wide to go in. Brough again added the extras for 14-0, the Robins looking in all kinds of problems.
KR finally got on the scoreboard on thirty-three minutes when Ben Crooks out jumped the Trinity defence to take the Josh Drinkwater kick and drop over the line.Ryan Shaw hit the post with his conversion to leave his side still ten points adrift.
Within two minutes a stretched arm from Mitch Garbutt grabbed the second for the Robins. This time Shaw was able to add the extras for 10-14, the home side right back in a game which had looked to be drifting away from them.
Trinity had a terrific start to the second half when Kyle Wood went from dummy half through a non-existant KR defence to score the third Wakefield try of the afternoon. Brough was accurate with the boot for the fourth time for 20-10.
Bill Tupou scored a crucial try for Trinity on sixty-four pushing past the Hull KR defenders to get the ball on the ground. Brough added the extras for 26-10, three converted tries required by the home side in just fifteen minutes.
An attempted drop goal from Morgan Escare on sixty-seven was charged down but two minutes later Miller scored his second of the afternoon to put the result beyond any doubt. Brough was unable to make it six from six but it was a crucial two league points for Wakefield.
When Ben Crooks lost the ball which was picked up by Ryan Hampshire to run to the corner to score, despite a chase back by Shaw. Brough was unable to add the extra two from wide but it mattered little.
Brough hit the post with an attempted drop goal which was collected by Ryan Shaw who ran the ball all the way to the Wakefield twenty. A fast play the ball found McGuire but all he could do was knock-on in the act of scoring.
Within seconds Trinity were on the attack with Ryan Hampshire playing football and dribbling the ball into goal before diving on it and grounding. Brough was again wide with the conversion but with ninety seconds remaining it was a superb away win at the most crucial of times.
There will be a huge sigh of relief amongst the Trinity staff and supporters as they registered a vital win and two points haul at one of their main challengers for Super League survival. Wakefield lift themselves two points ahead of the pack with three games remaining but Hull KR are still in a whole heap of trouble and now ahead of the London Broncos courtesy of just eighteen points of points difference. A fortnight off now for both sides but that just means two weeks of further worry ahead of the crucial run in.
KR: Quinlan, Shaw (G), Crooks (T), Linnett, Hall, McGuire, Drinkwater, Masoe, Atkin, Murray, Hauraki, Tomkins, Hadley. Subs: Garbutt (T), Trout, Litten, Mulhern.
Trinity: Escare, Jones-Bishop (T), Lyne, Tupou (T), Hampshire (2T), Miller (2T), Brough (5G), Kopczak, Wood (T), England, Batchelor, Kirmond, Tanginoa. Subs: Randell, Green, Annakin, Tangata.
Referee: Rob Hicks.