Salford Red Devils scored three tries compared to Wakefield Trinity’s two but conversions were the difference in the end.
Wakefield coach Chris Chester has made one change to his side as Craig Huby has returned from injury to start on the bench in place of Keegan Hirst.
Salford boss Ian Watson has made two changes to his outfit, with Logan Tomkins and Ben Nakubuwai (debut) coming in for Greg Johnson and George Griffin.
It may have been bitter cold in Wakefield on Friday night but Trinity certainly turned on the heat, scoring inside five minutes. Ireland star Scott Grix sold Salford a dummy to burst through a gap and score. Liam Finn added the conversion to put his side 6-0 up.
The first half-an-hour or so was a scruffy affair. Both sides dropped a number of balls and conceded just as many penalties, but somehow made for entertaining viewing.
It was just two degrees at The Mobile Rocket Stadium and Sky Sports pundit Barrie McDermott summed the weather up perfectly on the half hour mark, saying: “It’s colder than a penguin’s flipper out there!” Well said Barrie, well said.
Jacob Miller thought he had scored in the 31st minute. The Australian half-back stole the ball from Gareth O’Brien and went over the line but the video referee chalked it off due to Miller not managing to ground the ball – fine work from Robert Lui to stop him, though.
O’Brien showed fantastic desire and effort to track down Wakefield speedster Ben Jones-Bishop in the latter stages of the half, when Wakefield had a three-on-one break.
Unfortunately for Salford, they conceded a penalty in the following play in which Wakefield capitalised on. The Red Devils were caught interfering at the play-the-ball and Ireland ace Finn added the penalty goal from bang in front of the sticks for Trinity.
Finn’s penalty goal put Trinity 8-0 to the good at the break.
The hosts had a chance gone begging just a couple of minutes after the restart. Pauli Pauli was just yards away from the line but failed to keep hold of his chips. It was an easy opportunity for Trinity to score a four-pointer.
And Salford motored their way up the field and scored just two minutes after Pauli’s chance! Lui took advantage of Wakefield’s sleeping defence to score but O’Brien couldn’t convert. Wakefield led 8-4.
The Red Devils got on top of Trinity for a period in the second half and levelled things up through Niall Evalds. O’Brien couldn’t convert, 8-8.
Wakefield went back in front just inside the final quarter though. Miller latched onto a superb chip over the top from Ryan Hampshire to score. Finn added the conversion to put Trinity 14-6 in front.
Trinity thought they had wrapped the two points up with ten minutes remaining when Hampshire went over. However, it was ruled out due to a knock-on earlier in play from Jones-Bishop.
With just six points the difference between the two sides, the last ten minutes were nervy, for both Wakefield and Salford supporters.
Salford set up a nail-biting finish as they scored their third at the death after Weller Hauraki used the short side and threw a cut-out pass to Kris Welham who glided over in the corner.
With the score now at 14-12, it was all down to O’Brien, who needed to convert the try to snatch a point for the Red Devils.
The full-back’s conversion attempt went just wide of the uprights though and Wakefield won 14-12 in what was a knock-on-athon, but entertaining game.
Wakefield: 1 Grix; 2 Johnstone, 3 Tupou, 4 Lyne, 5 Jones-Bishop; 6 Miller, 7 Finn; 8 Fifita, 9 Wood, 10 England; 11 Ashurst, 14 Horo; 16 Arona. Subs: 25 Hampshire, 12 Kirmond, 15 Pauli, 17 Huby.
Salford: 1 O’Brien; 24 Bibby, 3 Welham, 4 Sa’u, 5 Evalds; 6 Lui, 7, Littlejohn; 23 Mossop, 19 Wood, 14 Tasi; 11 Jones, 12 Hauraki; 17 McCarthy. Subs: 8 Kopczak, 9 Tomkins, 16 Burgess, 18 Nakubuwai.