Wakefield Wildcats: Danny Washbrook, Richard Mathers, Richrd Owen. Goals: Paul Sykes: 2/3.
Leeds Rhinos: Kallum Watkins, Ben Jones-Bishop, Ryan Hall. Goals: Liam Sutcliffe: 1/3.
Richard Owen scored a last-minute try as Wakefield’s resurgence under new coach, James Webster, continued with a 16-14 victory over local rivals Leeds Rhinos on Friday night.
Wakefield’s Danny Washbrook opened the scoring but the Rhinos hit back with two tries of their own through Kallum Watkins and a stunning long-range effort from Ben Jones-Bishop which saw the visitors go into the break 8-6 ahead. Former Leeds man Richard Mathers edged the Wildcats back in front after half time but Ryan Hall’s 15th try of the season put Leeds ahead and in control in the final stages.
The Rhinos looked on course for a vital two points which would have taken them to the top of the league but Owen had other ideas as Wakefield recorded their first win over their West Yorkshire neighbours after previously failing in six attempts.
Leeds head coach Brian McDermott named an inexperienced bench – with an average age of just 19 – while a number of key men such as influential captain Kevin Sinfield were on the sidelines and key second rowers Ali Lauiti’iti and Danny Kirmond were unavailable for the Wildcats.
Chris Riley thought he had put the home side ahead early on but his effort was ruled out by the video referee after Reece Lyne put a foot in touch. The video referee was called upon again when Washbrook raced on to Tim Smith’s chip over the top but this time the decision went in the Wildcats’ favour, giving them a six pint lead on 16 minutes.
The Rhinos attempts to gain good field position were thwarted by a high number of errors as they failed to launch any dangerous attacks in the opening half hour but a a mistake by Richard Owen finally gave Leeds possession on the Wildcats line on 33 minutes. The Rhinos clinically finished their fist real chance of the game with Kallum Watkins gliding in on the right edge.
Stand-in kicker Liam Sutcliffe hooked his conversion attempt wide but a brilliant long-range effort from deep inside the Rhinos half from Jones-Bishop ensured the visitors went into the break in front. The stand-in full-back held off the challenges of four would-be Wakefield tacklers to race clear and score, giving the Rhinos an 8-6 lead.
The second half opened in cautious fashion, but Wakefield went ahead again when Smith switched the ball inside and Mathers reached out to score after taking an slick pass from Paul Sykes.
Young forward Elliot Minchella lost the ball stretching for the line as Leeds tried to draw level. But, resilient defence from the home side meant the Rhinos could not haul themselves ahead until 12 minutes from time when Ryan Hall crossed.
Danny McGuire launched a high kick towards the left corner and Hall powerfully out-jumped two defenders to touch down. Sutcliffe found his range to kick his first conversion of the night and give the Rhinos a two-point advantage heading into the final ten minutes.
But there was late drama as McGuire had a try controversially ruled out for a knock on, and that proved to be crucial as Owen slid over in the corner to win it for Wakefield at the death.