It was top against bottom in round fifteen of Super League as Wakefield Trinity took on St Helens at Headingley Stadium. There was only one possible outcome to the game, Wakefield being more firmly stuck at the bottom with St Helens increasing their lead at the top.
Wakefield continue to soldier on despite being decimated by coronavirus and injuries and they were facing a near full-strength St Helens side in a game which the bookies gave the Yorkshire side a thirty-four point start on the coupon.
One ray of hope for Trinity was the return of David Fifita as the big prop finally agreed to wear a GPS tracker enabling to meet Super League monitoring requirements.
It was an uncharacteristically sloppy start for Saints and Wakefield took the lead on eight minutes when Alex Walker picked up a kick infield by Reece Lyne and went over without a St Helens hand laid on him. Ryan Hampshire added the conversion for a 6-0 lead.
Trinity got a second on eighteen, Craig Kopczak crashing the line off a short pass to go over from five metres out. Hampshire was again accurate with the boot, Saints looking like they were the side propping up the table.
Just after thirty Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook got Saints back into the game when he ran over the top of a couple of tired challengers to go over from ten metres out and score under the sticks. Lachlan Coote added the extras, Saints now just six adrift.
Four minutes before the break Josh Simm went down the left wing and managed to offload before being pulled into touch. The ball went into the hands of Coote who scored a poachers try from close. Coote hit the far upright with his conversion attempt, Trinity holding onto a two-point lead going into the sheds.
The sides were locked together until the sixty-second minute when a resolute Trinity defence was finally unlocked with a looping Jonny Lomax pass into the hands of Regan Grace for the winger to step inside and get over the line. Coote pulled his kick across the posts, Saints with a two-point lead.
The win was sealed on sixty-eight thanks to Coote’s second of the evening when he was on hand to take an inside ball from Lomax and go twenty to score under the uprights. He converted his own try for 20-12, Saints consolidating their position at the top of the table.
Matty Ashurst was held up just short of the line on seventy-three as Wakefield pushed to get back in the game but panic football, chasing the game, led Wakefield into an increasing number of handling errors.
With seconds remaining Matty Ashurst managed to get the ball on the ground for the third trinity try, Wakefield declining the kick, but with only a handful of seconds remaining Saints ran down the clock for a 20-16 win.
It was a valiant effort from Trinity, and for a while in the first half they dominated the game and must have held out hoped for springing a shock by defeating the league leaders and defending Champions. But Saints will never give in, and after chipping away for an hour they finally hit the front and pulled away thanks to some deft ball handling which outfoxed the Trinity defenders.
Wakefield Trinity: Walker A (T), Johnstone, Croft, Lyne, Senior, Jowitt, Hampshire (2G), Tanginoa, Wood J, Kopczak (T), Batchelor, Ashurst (T), Westerman. Subs: Bailey, Battye, Fifita, Tangata.
St Helens: Coote (2T, 2G), Grace (T), Simm, Naiqama, Makinson, Lomax, Fages, Walmsley, Roby, Lees, Knowles, Bentley, McCarthy-Scarsbrook (T). Subs: Taia, Peyroux, Amor, Welsby.
Referee: Liam Moore.
Half Time: 12-10.
Full Time: 16-20.
Venue: Emerald Headingley Stadium, Leeds.