Wakefield 32-34 Warrington: Wolves survive huge comeback from Trinity
Warrington go level with St Helens at top of Super League
By Press Association Sport
Last Updated: 22/03/19 7:23am
Warrington held off a storming finish from Wakefield to claim a tense 34-32 victory that enabled them to draw level with Betfred Super League leaders St Helens.
After scoring three tries in the first 12 minutes, Wolves looked certain to reach the 26-point margin they needed to dislodge Saints from top spot but Trinity mounted a tremendous fightback to leave Steve Price's men desperate for the final whistle.
Trailing 34-12, hooker Kyle Wood scored two tries in two minutes to spark the revival and three-quarters Max Jowitt and Joe Arundel, both making their first appearances of the season, added others in the last six minutes to set up a nerve-jangling finish.
If Danny Brough been able to convert Arundel's 78th-minute try, the game would have gone into golden point extra time but he was narrowly wide of the target as Trinity were left to rue a slow start.
In the end, after scoring five tries to six, Wolves were grateful to the boot of Stefan Ratchford, who kicked seven goals from seven attempts.
A second successive home defeat summed up Wakefield's inconsistencies following their big win at Hull and made for a disappointing end to a day that had begun so well for them with news that the club has successfully re-purchased the freehold to Belle Vue ready for a major ground redevelopment.
The home side were without second-row pair Matty Ashurst and Danny Kirmond, as well as three-quarters Tom Johnstone and Bill Tupou, and the game looked to be over as a contest inside 12 minutes as the visitors racked up an 18-0 lead.
Centre Toby King, gaining family bragging rights over older brother George in the Wakefield team, opened the scoring in the fifth minute after the home defence failed to deal with Dec Patton's cross-field kick.
King then supplied the final pass for winger Josh Charnley to go over for the first of his two tries before England prop Chris Hill proved unstoppable on a barnstorming run from 10 metres out.
With Ratchford landing all three conversions, Warrington were scoring at more than a point a minute but the momentum changed when winger Jake Mamo had a try disallowed for obstruction.
A delayed pass from Brough got full-back Ryan Hampshire over for Wakefield's first try after 18 minutes and he added the conversion to suggest a Trinity revival.
Had second rower Pauli Pauli, making only his seventh start in over 12 months, been able to get the ball down when he barged over the line shortly afterwards, the comeback would have been well and truly on. But, he was held up and Warrington found their second wind to seemingly pull clear.
A superb offload by prop Mike Cooper opened up the Trinity defence and Jason Clark and Ben Currie combined to get stand-off Blake Austin striding majestically over for his side's fourth try.
Ratchford maintained his accuracy with the conversion and kicked penalty goals either side of half-time to stretch the Wolves' lead to 28-6.
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Mamo was denied a second time before Wakefield pulled a try back through a rampaging David Fifita after 55 minutes but it did little to threaten Warrington's stranglehold on the game.
Austin showed his class with a break from deep inside his own half to get Charnley over for his second try and Ratchford made it seven from seven with the touchline conversion.
The visitors were placed on a team warning following a succession of penalties and their defence opened up invitingly for hooker Kyle Wood to go over for two tries in as many minutes.
He dummied his way over for the first and followed up a speculative kick ahead from centre Reece Lyne to double his tally before Arundel worked Jowitt over and then went over himself as Wakefield finished on top.
Warrington coach Steve Price said his side would take learnings from the way they almost let the match out of their grasp after twice holding significant leads.
Chris Chester said Wakefield's fightback against showed a huge amount of character from his players but shared that they will 'dissect' their first-half performance.