After a fantastic 30-4 victory for Wakefield Trinity over the Leeds Rhinos on Thursday evening, the two sides met again in a re-arranged round eleven game at the Mobile Rocket Stadium in Wakefield.
Both coaches made a raft of changes to their starting line-ups and benches, most notably the Rhinos were without captain Luke Gale who was rested.
Wakefield were slight favourites with the bookies, the Rhinos given a two-point start on the coupon, possibly as a response to last week’s loss, and possibly a reflection of the number of changes that coach Agar had made. Leeds needed the win to maintain their push for the top four, should tomorrow’s meetings require such a finish to make the play-offs.
On their first real attack in the Wakefield half, Leeds drew first blood when Liam Sutcliffe broke downfield and passed out to Leeds skipper Ash Handley. Sutcliffe added the conversion for a 6-0 lead after eight minutes.
Within two minutes Trinity responded thanks to an interception try from Lee Kershaw saw the Wakefield man sprint away from the chasing Rhinos players to score by the uprights. Ryan Hampshire added the conversion to level the scores after twelve.
Joe Westerman bust the Leeds line to put Trinity into the lead on fifteen minutes, pushing between James Donaldson and Bodene Thompson. Hampshire added the conversion for a six-point lead.
It was a scrappy game with both sides making mistakes. Within a few minutes of going behind Handley picked up the ball and shrugged off the tackle of Ben Jones-Bishop before finding Sutcliffe in support to pick up the pass and go in to score. The Rhinos centre was unable to convert his own try, Leeds two behind after twenty-two.
Trinity bombed a certain try on thirty-three when a poor Jones-Bishop pass went to ground as he tried to pass to Jack Croft with the line begging.
Three minutes before the interval the skipper put the Rhinos back into the lead when Thompson bust through the found Sutcliffe who made a clean break before passing to the supporting Handley for the four-pointer. Rhyse Martin was on the pitch as substitute but couldn’t make the kick. A string breeze was in Leeds faces but would be at their backs for the second half.
Harry Bowes was within a hairs breadth of a debut try just after the restart but on the next play a high ball to the corner found Innes Senior as he rose above the Leeds defender to take the Hampshire kick to the corner and score. Hampshire added the conversion, into the wind, for an 18-14 lead.
A Wakefield mistake, spilling the ball on their own thirty, gifted the Rhinos a try as Brad Dwyer scooted from dummy half to dive over the line from ten metres out and level the scores at 18-18. Martin added the goal, and with just over ten minutes remaining in the game, the Rhinos had a two-point lead.
A Wakefield penalty, forty metres from the line, was gifted for a Luke Briscoe ball strip but Trinity chose to play the ball rather than kick the equalising penalty. But pushing for the line David Fifita lost the ball on the Leeds line and the Rhinos had ridden the storm to grab a slender two point win.
There was nothing pretty about a game played in poor conditions between two tired sides. Mistakes were the order of the day, along with a handful of injuries, and neither coach will be particularly happy at the outcome. The Rhinos keep their chances of a top four finish alive but it looks almost academic with strong rumours that the season will be ended early and a play-offs schedule featuring the top eight (including Leeds) will get underway next weekend in the interests of player safety and avoiding a number of ‘dead rubber’ games.
Wakefield Trinity: Walker, Kershaw (T), Senior (T), Croft, Jones-Bishop, Miller, Hampshire (3G), Green, Wood K, Arona, Westerman (T), Tanginoa, Aydin. Subs: Bowes, Bailey, Fifita, Battye.
Leeds Rhinos: Walker, Briscoe L, Evans, Sutcliffe L (T, G), Handley (2T), Lui, McLelland, Harrison, Dwyer (T), Seumanufagai, Walters, Thompson, Donaldson. Subs: Oledzki, Leeming, Martin (G), O’Connor.
Referee: Marcus Griffiths.
Half Time: 12-14.
Full Time: 18-20.
Venue: Mobile Rocket Stadium, Wakefield.