It was fifth against first as Wakefield Trinity looked to jump into the top four against an all-conquering Castleford Tigers side who are already guaranteed top spot at the split, and are solid favourites to win the minor premiership. Both sides are already safe in the Super Eights competition.
Trinity would have to do it without Reece Lyne who was suspended, while Castleford had the returning Minikin and Lynch to bolster their side.
Castleford won the only other meeting this season, back in April, by 42-24. Both sides were on the back of wins last weekend, Trinity over Warrington and Castleford with a narrow victory over Hull FC.
After a scrappy opening eight minutes from both sides, Ben Jones-Bishop opened the scoring for Trinity when Dean Hadley took a wayward pass before finding the speedy winger who went almost ninety metres to score. Liam Finn added the extras.
After Milner held down in the tackle just five metres from his own try line, Finn accepted the invitation for another two points to give the home side an 8-0 lead.
Greg Eden had a try disallowed by the video referee, on twenty-four, after interference in the build-up. Within three minutes an excellent break down the left side of the field from Scott Grix and Bill Tupou eventually saw the ball into the hands of Kyle Wood who crashed over the line to ground. Finn added the extras for 14-0.
An offside ruling against Castleford, under their own sticks, gave Finn another penalty goal on thirty-one minutes and they carried the 16-0 lead into the interval, the first time the Tigers had been kept scoreless in a first half in 2017. It had been a complete first half performance for Trinity and the Tigers were well below par, the visitors were in for a half-time roasting.
The second half was just two minutes old when Paul McShane picked up an errant pass before quickly finding Greg Eden to go ninety metres down the left wing to score. Luke Gale added the conversion and with Daryl Powell’s words still ringing in their ears, his side was back in it.
Michael Shenton went close on forty-six and two plays later Grant Millington pushed through the Trinity defence to ground by the right upright. Gale added the two and within four minutes the arrears had been reduced from sixteen points to just four.
Castleford hit the front on fifty-four with an electrifying passing move which ended with Mike McMeeken going over off a Ben Roberts final pass to score the team try. Gale added the goal for 18-16 and it now looked like there was only one winner as the Tigers side who had been absent in the first half had arrived with a bang.
Joe Arundel stole the ball from Eden after a towering kick, and two plays later David Fifita lunged for the line and grounded on the whitewash. Finn slotted the conversion between the sticks and Wakefield were back in the lead after withstanding the Tigers storm.
When Gadwin Springer held Tinirau Arona down in the tackle, Finn kicked the penalty to edge his side six into the lead but it lasted just seconds before Jake Webster spun out of the tackles and burrowed under the Wakefield defence to score from ten metres. Gale kicked the conversion and with five minutes left on the clock the scores were tied at 24-24.
A ball steal by Fifita gave the Tigers field position and on seventy-eight Gale kicked a drop-goal from fifteen metres to seal a last ditch win in a game where the Tigers were second best for long periods but rode their luck for the win and the two points. Wakefield will be distraught that they couldn’t hang on for the win and will rue a few moments of indiscipline which gifted the league leaders position and possession at key moments.
The Tigers are now ten points clear at the top and look unstoppable.
Trinity: Grix, Jones-Bishop (T), Arundel, Tupou, Caton-Brown, Williams, Finn (6G), Walker, Wood (T), Huby, Ashurst, Hadley, Arona. Subs: Annakin, Hirst, England, Fifita (T).
Tigers: Hardaker , Minikin, Webster (T), Shenton, Eden (T), Roberts, Gale (4G, DG), Massey, McShane, Millington (T), Sene-Lefeo, McMeeken (T), Milner. Subs: Lynch, Springer, Patrick, Foster.
Referee: Chris Kendall.