Wakefield moved in to pole position for the final play-off spot with a hard-fought 22-18 win over Widnes.
Cheered on by a boisterous home crowd, boosted by Bradford’s defeat against Hull last night which put their play-off destiny in their own hands, Wakefield weren’t going to have it all their own way.
Rhys Hanbury put the visitors in front inside the first five minutes, playing a neat switch-around move with Frank Winterstein before backing himself on the outside to touch down in the corner. The Australian tagged on the extras from the touchline to put Widnes, with just one away win all season, 6-0 to the good.
Prop Kyle Amor settled the home fans nerves with a converted try on 12 minutes, and it looked like that would be the half time score, until Hanbury popped up with another fine solo score.
He just about gathered a pass to burst through the Wakefield line on half-way, before chipping over full-back Richie Mathers, catching on the full and going over the whitewash, to put Widnes 10-6 up at half time.
Wakefield came out firing at the start of the second half, looking for the win that would take them in to 8th spot, and they were back on terms within 11 minutes, as Mathers burst through a tackle and reached over the line.
The tit-for-tat scoring continued, as Widnes pressed forward, and a long pass out wide found Paddy Flynn for a walk-in on the right.
Widnes’ lead lasted for just five minutes, as Ali Lauitiiti got on the end of an offload to power his way over.
The big talking point came in the final quarter. Danny Craven‘s high kick was plucked out the air by Peter Fox, who raced 60 metres up the field, and with Widnes’ defence scrambling, Flynn was pulled for a high-tackle, and shown a yellow card by referee James Child.
It gave Wakefield a kickable penalty, and Paul Sykes duly obliged to nudge them 18-16 in front.
The game still wasn’t over, as Widnes themselves converted a long-range penalty, through Hanbury, to level things up, until Kirmond’s late show ensured Wakefield earned the two points they needed to leapfrog Bradford in to 8th place.
Wakefield will now guarantee their play-off place with a win at Salford next Saturday, but they might not need victory, if Bradford lose against Catalan earlier in the day.