Second placed Wigan Warriors and a Wakefield Trinity side in ninth place both got their first outings since the season restart as they met at Headingley in the second match of the triple header.
Just as Salford had been given little chance in the opening game, Trinity were string underdogs to take the two points off a Warriors side who were eyeing up the top of the table and pushing the Rhinos down to second ahead of their match in the final game of the afternoon.
Little could have prepared us for the nail-biting last ten minutes after Wigan looked like they would be runaway winners.
A tenth minute penalty, for markers not being square, gave Wakefield the lead as Tony Gigot kicked the penalty goal from right in front of the sticks but it had been a scrappy, injury strewn, opening ten.
The first try of the game was scored by Zak Hardaker on thirteen as he strode through the Wakefield defence off a Harry Smith pass to score behind the sticks. Hardaker added the conversion to his own try as the Warriors took a 6-2 lead.
Hardaker was try provider on twenty-three when his precise grubber was grounded by Bevan French in the right corner. This time Hardaker was unable to add the extras.
Jacob Miller was held up over the line for Trinity on thirty and later in the same set great defence from Wigan prevented Max Jowitt from getting the ball to ground.
Seven minutes from the interval Kyle Wood was the Trinity hero after throwing two dummies and running the angle to dive over the line for the first Wakefield try of the afternoon. Gigot hit the near upright with his conversion attempt, Trinity now 6-10 behind.
Wigan struck straight back as Liam Marshall picked up a delightful Jackson Hastings dink through to cross unopposed and touch down behind the sticks. Hardaker slotted the conversion between the posts for 16-6 at the interval.
Tremendous strength from Jake Bibby saw the Wigan centre get the ball on the ground under a pile of Trinity tacklers to extend the lead. Hardaker added the two points for a 22-6 lead, Wigan pulling clear and heading for the top of the table.
Tom Johnstone scored a miracle try on sixty-five when he took a cross-field kick at full stretch and managed to twist, avoid the tackle, and ground in one motion by the left corner flag. Tony Gigot added the touchline conversion to get his side within ten of the Warriors.
On seventy-one Liam Kay was the man on the overlap to take the ball tight to the right touchline and cross to improve the angle before diving to ground. Gigot couldn’t add the extras, Wakefield now just six behind the Warriors.
But the fightback looked like it had come too late and Wigan redoubled their efforts, Harry Smith kicking a forty-metre drop goal, in off the left upright, for a seven point lead. But there was to be another twist.
Liam Kay added his second try of the afternoon with another try down the right-hand side. Jowitt added the conversion for 22-23, a tremendous belief and effort from Wakefield. The Wigan nerves were on edge with two minutes remaining.
The final action saw Miller failed to add a drop goal with thirty second remaining on the clock. Wigan clung on for the win.
In the end it was the narrowest of wins for the Warriors over a Wakefield side who threw everything that they had into the second half. Hardaker and Hastings were instrumental for a Wigan side who showed more enthusiasm and made fewer mistakes than their opponents. Wigan to the top of the pile, at least for the next eighty minutes. There was some solace for Trinity with their late fightback making Wigan look ordinary in the last quarter of an hour.
Trinity: Gigot (2G), Johnstone (T), Tupou, Lyne, Kay (2T), Jowitt (G), Miller, Navarrete, Wood J, Kopczak, Pitts, Tanginoa, Arona. Subs: Wood K (T), Kirmond, Tangata, Fifita.
Warriors: French (T), Marshall (T), Bibby (T), Hardaker (T, 3G), Manfredi, Leuluai, Hastings, Bullock, Powell, Byrne, Farrell, Isa, Havard. Subs: Burgess, Clark, Smith, Smithies.
Referee: Ben Thaler.
Ground: Emerald Headingley Stadium, Leeds.