The second round of the Super League Super Eights got underway as the second placed Leeds Rhinos made the short trip to Wakefield to take on sixth placed Trinity. The home side were seeking a turnaround in their recent form and a return to the play-off positions but the Rhinos wanted to points to reduce Castleford Tigers lead at the top to six points.
Chris Chester welcomed back Jacob Miller from a broken leg as he made a few positional changes to the side which were beaten heavily at Huddersfield Giants last weekend. Leeds coach Brian McDermott made just one change as Rob Burrow came into the seventeen as he returned from injury with Jordan Lilley stepping aside.
The bookies and pundits could only see a Rhinos victory, but no-one told Wakefield.
It was the perfect start for the hosts as Joe Arundel was third in line to take a pass five metres from the line and dive over the line through a gap in the Rhinos defence. Liam Finn added the extras and after just five minutes Trinity had a 6-0 lead.
The Rhinos were back on level terms on ten minutes after Wakefield were penalised for tackling a player without the ball. On the third tackle Danny McGuire put in a grubber which Adam Cuthbertson collected and grounded in goal without any Trinity defender within touching distance. Watkins kicked the goal.
Both sides were making unforced errors and it was Wakefield who capitalised whenJamie Jomes-Buchanan knocked on. Ben Jones-Bishop was the first react to dive on a Scott Grix grubber to ground before the dead ball line. Finn kicked the extra two from wide right for 12-6.
From the kick off Kyle Wood broke for twenty before releasing Grix to go fifty and outpace the Rhinos defence to score by the uprights giving Finn his third conversion of the night for a twelve point lead as the Rhinos failed to find the form that they enjoyed last week against the Warriors.
On thirty-four the Rhinos were caught offside on their own line and Finn kicked the penalty to put his side three scores ahead.
Real confusion in the Rhinos defence gifted Wakefield their fourth try when McGuire and Watkins both failed to clear a grubber and the ball was caught by Jacob Miller and grounded behind the sticks. Finn kicked the extras for a 26-6 half time lead for Trinity.
Ten minutes into the second half and Wakefield forced another try when Ash Golding lost the ball under a robust gang tackle and Matty Ashurst picked up the loose ball just short of the line and lifted it over to score. Finn kicked the goal for 32-6 and it looked a long way back for the Rhinos.
On the hour mark Kyle Wood had a try turned down for a double movement and good defence from Trinity then kept the Rhinos out when they had a couple of chances to score tries.
Joe Arundel picked up a nasty looking knock on seventy-four to sour the evening for the home side but when Watkins failed to push a Grix bouncing grubber dead on seventy-six it was picked up by Bill Tupou to ground. Finn added his seventh of the night for a final score of 38-6.
This was amongst Wakefield’s best performances of the season. They ‘roughed up’ the Rhinos and made them look like a bottom four side rather than one looking to guarantee themeselves a home fixture in the play-offs. Trinity are back into the top four and if they can build on this form then they have every chance of still being their in five rounds time. Its back to the drawing board for Brian McDermott, the post-mortem might not be pretty.
Rhinos: Golding, Briscoe, Watkins (G), Sutcliffe L., Hall, Moon, McGuire, Cuthbertson (T), Parcell, Singleton, Ward, Ablett, Jones-Buchanan. Subs: Mullally, Keinhorst, Burrow, Delaney.
Trinity: Grix (T), Jones-Bishop (T), Lyne, Arundel (T), Tupou (T), Miller (T), Finn (7G), Fifita, Wood, England, Kirmond, Ashurst (T), Arona. Subs: Hirst, Annakin, Hadley, Hasson.
Referee: Ben Thaler.