Wakefield Trinity 24-20 St Helens
Sunday afternoon saw St Helens visit the Mobile Rocket Stadium – better known as Belle Vue – to face a Wakefield Trinity team coming off five consecutive narrow defeats. The league leaders, therefore, would have fancied their chances of recording their fifth win in a row against Chris Chester’s men.
However, despite Mark Percival’s 2nd minute try giving the visitors the lead, Wakefield promptly stunned the Saints with four tries in a dazzling sixteen minute spell. Ben Jones-Bishop started it after the ball was neatly worked out well to the right and, following Scott Grix’s flat pass, crashed over in the corner under pressure. It wasn’t long after that a similar move proceeded as Tyler Randell and Liam Finn set the position for centre Reece Lyne to cross to give Trinity the lead following a strong Jones-Bishop break.
Four minutes later and Wakefield crossed again through Justin Horo who, after picking the ball up from Randell on the twenty promptly danced through the gaps in the centre of St Helens’ defence – aided by a show-and-go – and beat full back Ben Barba to ground just to the side of the posts. Chris Chester would go on to suggest that Horo’s performance was one of his best for the club since joining from Catalans in the off season, saying “I was really pleased with Horo. He took his try well, defended tough and came up with some big plays for us.” Bill Tupou joined his teammates on the scoresheet following some quick reactions. When the ball went to ground fifteen minutes from the Saints’ line, the left winger – in for the dropped Tom Johnstone – bulldozed his way past four defenders before eventually grounding.
Three of the tries were converted and the team in a bad run of form found themselves with a sixteen point lead with 22 minutes on the clock. Tommy Makinson produced a sensational acrobatic finish that is fast becoming a trademark finish and, despite the hosts’ best efforts in defence, Percival crossed for his second of the afternoon just and Percival’s second try narrowed the deficit seconds before half-time following Ben Barba’s pass. That left the half time score at 22-16 to Trinity after a half full of tries and, if fans were expecting more of the same, they were to be ultimately disappointed.
They were, however, witness to a half of strong defence from Wakefield who only allowed one try from Luke Douglas. Following a 40-20 from youngster Danny Richardson, Theo Fages’ pass from dummy half allowed Douglas to crash through the line and, after Richardson’s conversion, the margin was down to just two points.
That is how the scoreline stayed until late on although the hosts should probably have eased their fans’ nerves. Earlier try scorers Tupou and Horo combined to leave the loose forward storming clear with Matty Ashurst providing inside support. The New Zealander opted to go alone and Ryan Morgan was able to stop him. Following a strong half of defence, though, Trinity were able to extend their lead.
Tupou again was involved and, after dispossessing Morgan, was able to dash upfield and, while he wasn’t able to reach the line, a following play saw Luke Thompson penalised for a high shot on Keegan Hirst. Liam Finn kicked his fourth goal of the game to give the hosts a four point lead.
That was with eight minutes left but, moments later, Saints were threatening to take all the points as the mercurial Barba freed Jonny Lomax. The Englishman was stopped by Randell but via the means of a high tackle which saw Trinity’s number thirteen sin-binned – ending his afternoon – but, while the Wakefield fans would have feared a struggle to hold onto their win, the referee was about to level up the playing numbers. Percival was cautioned for foul language directed at a touch judge and Wakefield were able to then close the game out – but only after Makinson knocked on from Lomax’s looping pass, prompting manic celebrations from Wakefield fans and players alike.
Wakefield Trinity team: Grix, Jones-Bishop, Lyne, Arundel, Tupou, Miller, Finn, Huby, Randell, Hirst, Ashurst, Kirmond, Horo
Interchanges: Wood, England, Arona, Baldwinson
Tries: Jones-Bishop (6), Lyne (13), Horo (17), Tupou (22)
Conversions: Finn (6,13,17,72)
St Helens team: Barba, Makinson, Morgan, Percival, Grace, Lomax, Richardson, Amor, Smith, Thompson, Peyroux, Taia, Wilkin
Interchanges: Fages, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Douglas, Knowles
Tries: Percival (2,39), Makinson (25), Douglas (46)
Conversions: Richardson (3,46)