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Saints rue flaky defence and poor late strategy at Wakefield
Wakefield 33 Saints 32
SAINTS slipped to a disappointing defeat at Belle Vue after paying a heavy price for some poor discipline, flaky defence and too many players not playing smart enough when it counted.
Despite not being on top of their game, they still looked as though they had salvaged what would have been a valuable point – which would have been as good as a win in the battle for a top four spot.
But some poor tactics late on gifted Trinity three opportunities to snatch a match winning drop goal, and after they had fluffed two chances Paul Sykes struck the winner after Saints had given the ball away inside their own half.
It was a sickener – particularly for the large contingent of travelling fans who had their noses rubbed in it by the vociferous home faithful who celebrated as if they had won the title.
Although they got off to a flying start with less than half a minute on the clock with a Tony Puletua try after a 70 metre Francis Meli dash, Saints let the Wildcats take charge of the first half. A pattern soon emerged – every time Saints made a mistake or conceded a penalty or a repeat set they ended up letting a try in.
So when Meli was forced behind his own line for a drop out, Wakefield were soon on the scoresheet courtesy of a Lee Smith try goaled by Sykes.
Saints should have been back in front when Lance Hohaia broke through before finding the supporting Jonny Lomax, who probably would have scored had he not been ankle tapped before catching the ball. Trinity responded when Andy Raleigh won the race to a grubber close to the line to make it 12-4.
Two minutes later Meli won the race to Lomax’s diagonal dab through before Danny Kirmond added a quickfire brace and suddenly Saints were 14 points adrift.
It was vital for Saints to get the next score - and they did with Paul Wellens taking Lomax’s inside ball for his 19th try of the season just before the break, with Tommy Makinson kicking his first goal.
Substitute Andrew Dixon, who had a busy game and really put himself about, threw a fine long pass along the 20 metre line for Meli to amble over, which with Makinson’s goal cut the deficit to two points.
Saints hit the front again when following an intricate move Wellens ran on to Lee Gaskell’s inside ball to touch down without a finger being laid upon him. For once Saints were on the front foot and looked all set to wrap it up when Gaskell chipped behind the Trinity line – three men came in to hammer wing Ben Cockayne, but he evaded them and dashed 40 metres.
Although Wellens got across, Ali Lauitiiti carried play upfield to slip the pass out for Smith to grab his second. And after Lomax was penalised for dissent, Wakefield had another shot at the line which seemed to part far too easily for Kyle Wood to dash through by the posts.
Saints were soon back level, in this pulsating encounter, when hands along the left involving Lomax, Wellens and Chris Flannery saw Meli complete his hat-trick.
However, Saints’ inability to close a game down again reared its ugly head – and although Sykes and Tim Smith made hashes of their first drop goal attempts, they were eventually punished.
With less than 20 seconds on the clock Gaskell forced out of the tackle to gift the homesters one more shot at goal. This time Sykes duly slotted over the one-pointer with no time to restart the game.
After consecutive defeats, Saints will have to get a lot smarter if they are to avoid this season fizzling out.
Wakefield: Richard Mathers; Peter Fox, Danny Cowling, Lee Smith, Ben Cockayne; Paul Sykes, Tim Smith; Kyle Amor, Andy Ellis, Andy Raleigh, Ali Lauitiiti, Danny Kirmond, Danny Washbrook. Subs: Kyle Wood, Oliver Wilkes, Paul Johnson, Frankie Mariano.
Saints: Paul Wellens; Tommy Makinson, Michael Shenton, Josh Jones, Francis Meli; Lance Hohaia, Jonny Lomax; Josh Perry, James Roby, Anthony Laffranchi, Tony Puletua, Chris Flannery, Mark Flanagan. Subs: Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Paul Clough, Andy Dixon, Lee Gaskell.