Wakefield Wildcats’ charge to the playoffs continued with a 24-14 victory over the Widnes Vikings at the Rapid Solicitors Stadium.
The Wildcats made it four wins in a row in a bid to repeat last year’s run to the playoffs as they sit just a point behind Hull FC in ninth place, with a game in hand, in the Super League table.
Richard Agar’s side took a 12-4 lead into half time after tries from Dean Collis and Ali Lauitiiti against Widnes’ try through Patrick Ah Van.
Widnes had a try disallowed at the start of the second half and Wakefield scored a quick brace through Frankie Mariano and Matty Wildie to put some daylight between the two teams.
Gareth Hock pulled a try back and Rhys Hanbury scored with four minutes remaining but the Vikings were left with too much to do after a mistake-ridden performance.
The home side found themselves ahead after just three minutes through Collis. Richie Mathers slotted a grubber kick behind Ah Van on the right hand side and Collis got behind the winger to reach the ball to score.
Five minutes later the visitors were brought within two points by Ah Van after being set up by Kevin Brown. The half back through a pass out to Ah Van after Widnes’ attack drew Wakefield’s defenders inside and Ah Van scored unmarked in the corner.
After Hock conceded a penalty for a shoulder charge Widnes were given the ball back after a knock-on by Wakefield. Attacking the left edge Ah Van missed a golden opportunity after letting a pass slip through his legs with the line at his mercy.
Peter Fox knocked on with the home side’s next possession but Eamon O’Carroll lost control of the ball after Brown’s pass just metres from the line.
Danny Kirmond came to his side’s rescue after Hanbury made a break on the left hand side. The second row managed to make an ankle tap on Hanbury as he ran at Mathers with Ah Van in support.
At the other end of the field Kirmond was stopped just short of the line by three defenders as Wakefield looked to increase their lead.
Both sides were making mistakes in attack and it took 20 minutes for the Wildcats to extend their advantage through Lauitiiti’s first try of the season. The New Zealander ran at the line through a gap after an unfortunate slip by Widnes defender Danny Craven to score.
Widnes started strongly in the second half asking the question of the video referee after just two minutes. But Hanbury’s try was ruled out after a knock-on from Ah Van in the build up.
Widnes were the architects of their own downfall for Wakefields’ first try of the second half. MacGraff Leuluai knocked on inside his own half and the Wildcats charged forward through Cockayne who managed to throw an offload for Mariano who ran in to score under the posts.
Another Vikings mistake lead to another Wildcats try. Hock knocked the ball on with his sides first tackle just 10 metres from the line and Mariano and Cockayne linked up in attack to find Wildie in space to score a simple try.
Hock pulled a try back for the Vikings after a knock-on at the play of the ball by Cockayne. Brown slotted a pass to Hock who found a gap in Wakefield’s line and he had the legs to beat Mathers to the corner to score. Owens missed his second conversion of the night leaving Widnes 16 points behind.
Widnes were almost brought to within 10 points of their opponents but for a superb try saving tackle by Mathers. Cahill made a break up the middle and looked certain to score until Mathers’ tackle forced the ball loose just a metre from the line.
Hanbury bagged his 15th try of the season with four minutes remaining. Widnes found numbers in attack on the right hand side and Hanbury was played in after Cockayne was drawn inside towards the ball. Owens added the extras but the 10-point deficit proved too much for the visitors and the Wildcats ran out with the victory.
The Wildcats are just two points behind their next opponents St Helens in the table as they look to secure a place in the playoffs, while Widnes remain six points off the playoffs spots in 11th place.
Wakefield: Mathers, Fox, Collis, L Smith, Cockayne; Sykes, T Smith; Poore, Aiton, Amor, Mariano, Kirmond, Washbrook
Subs: Wildie, Wilkes, Lauitiiti, Raleigh
T: Collis, Lauitiiti, Mariano, Wildie
G: L Smith 4/4
Vikings: Hanbury, Owens, Phelps, Marsh, Ah Van; Brown, Craven; O’Carroll, Clarke, Gerrard, Hock, Allen, Cahill
Subs: Leuluai, Joseph, Kavanagh, Gore
T: Ah Van, Hock, Hanbury
G: Owens 1/3
Half Time: 12-4
Full Time: 24-14
Referee: Richard Silverwood
RLFANS Man of the Match: Danny Kirmond