Tom Johnstone’s try inside the final five minutes secured Wakefield Trinity’s first win since the Super League season resumed in August as they defeated Huddersfield Giants 18-14.
A promising start from Wakefield was rewarded through Matty Ashurst’s opening try, but Huddersfield hit back to lead 10-6 at half time through well-taken scores from Aiden Sezer and Jordan Turner.
Sam Wood pushed the Giants further ahead after the break, but Trinity dug deep and two tries from winger Johnstone secured the win.
With both sides scoring three tries, the result came down to the goalkicking of Ryan Hampshire, who slotted over all three conversions, compared to just one from three by Huddersfield’s Lee Gaskell.
A third successive defeat under caretaker coach Luke Robinson effectively ends the Giants’ lingering play-off hopes while Wakefield boss Chris Chester can savour a much-needed victory that rounded off a difficult week, even though they stay bottom of the table.
Trinity were hit by more covid-19 cases in the build-up to the match and Chester was forced to answer an allegation that he was facing a dressing room revolt.
There was little sign of unrest, however, and Wakefield’s spirit was epitomised by returning captain Jacob Miller, who laid on the first try of the match for second rower Ashurst with a precision kick to the line.
Hampshire’s conversion made it 6-0 but Huddersfield struck back immediately through dangerman Sezer, who glided effortlessly through the Trinity defence for his seventh try of the season.
Gaskell locked up the scores with the goal and the Giants went in front five minutes before half-time when winger Jake Wardle plucked Sezer’s kick out of the air to get centre Turner in for their second try.
Huddersfield, who lost second rower Kenny Edwards with double vision early in the game, might have been fortunate to be in front at the break but they looked the more creative side after the interval.
Both sides had chances early in the second half, with Giants forward Chris McQueen coming up with a timely interception to snuff out one attack while at the other end Trinity full-back Max Jowitt pulled off a try-saving tackle on Wood.
Sezer went close to touching down Gaskell’s kick before producing another pinpoint pass that gave Wood another opportunity, and this time he handed off Johnstone to score his first try of the season.
Johnstone made amends shortly afterwards, taking Jowitt’s long pass to go in for his first try of the match.
Hampshire’s second goal cut the gap to just two points and Wakefield thought they had gone back in front when winger Ben Jones-Bishop touched down a kick from centre Reece Lyne only to have the try disallowed for offside.
If that was a contentious decision, there was also some doubt about the match-winning effort by Johnson, who went over for his ninth try of the season after Miller’s tackle on Wood had forced the ball loose just 15 metres out from the Huddersfield line.
Hampshire kicked his third goal to nudge his side four points clear and Wakefield were able to see out the rest of the game.
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