08 September 2023

Wakefield on brink of Super League relegation after losing at home to Catalans

08 September 2023

Wakefield’s 24-year stay in Super League is hanging by a thread after an 18-10 defeat to Catalans Dragons left Mark Applegarth’s men rooted to the bottom of the table with two games of the season to go.

Despite dredging up two late tries, Trinity were never in the running against Steve McNamara’s visitors, for whom early tries from Tom Johnstone and Adam Keighran paved the way for a victory that reignited their hopes of claiming the League Leaders’ Shield.

It is an all together more dismal outlook for the hosts, who must now secure points in their remaining games at Leigh then at home to Hull KR if they to stand any chance of remaining in the top-flight.

Applegarth’s men made up plenty of ground but in an all-too-familiar story they contributed too little too late, and Catalans needed no fireworks to get back on track after two consecutive defeats.

Former Wakefield man Johnstone came back to haunt his former club by crossing for his 25th try of the season in seventh minute, moments after Mason Lino’s superb interception had caused Tom Davies to come up short.

Keighran extended the visitors’ advantage and 10 minutes later the Australian increased his tally when he jinked over before converting to stretch the score to 12.

Wakefield needed some inspiration and it was provided by the introduction of David Fifita, potentially playing his last game for the club, who helped pile the first spell of pressure on the Catalans’ line.

But any momentum Wakefield gleaned was interrupted by the sin-binning of Sam Eseh for a dangerous tackle on the half hour, and only some desperate defending, including another try-saving tackle by Lino to deny Tomkins, restricted the score to 12 at the interval.

Wakefield pressed forward in the first 20 minutes of the second half, forcing back to back goal-line drop-outs, but Catalans once again contained them and Manu Ma’u fluffed a fine chance to extend their advantage.

Catalans finally grabbed their third try just past the hour mark when Davies pounced on another clever Tomkins kick to cross in the corner, and although Keighran scuffed the conversion, a later penalty extended the French side’s lead to 18.

To their credit, the hosts never stopped fighting and late tries by Kelepi Tanginoa and Lee Kershaw, who charged the length of the field after an interception – made the scoreline respectable, but by then Wakefield’s fate had been sealed.

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