Despite wins over Leeds Rhinos, Wigan Warriors and Warrington Wolves, Wakefield Trinity have suffered relegation after a heart breaking defeat to Leigh Leopards in golden point extra time.
There has been a lot of talk of why the club has suffered relegation and plenty of people have had their say.
Barrie McDermott said that the departures of key men is the reason behind the relegation:
“They seem to start every year turning up to a gun fight, and that’s probably reflected in the squad. I think this year too many players, too many big personalities, left without being replaced and unfortunately it’s cost them.
“When they needed to get the wins on the board, they just couldn’t. It may well be a team from the same postcode now that replaces them in Featherstone.”
Paul Sculthorpe echoed this: “It’s one thing having financial stability in the club, but it’s also about the players that are out there on the field and this year especially, they’ve lost some big names.
“Some key players have gone that when they won the odd big game, it was those players that were needed, and I don’t think they’ve had this this year.
“They started the season very, very poorly. They were pointless in five of their first seven games, but you do feel for Mark Applegarth, his players and in particular the Wakefield fans.”
It was make or break for Wakefield Friday night. Following their loss to Catalans last week, coupled with a Castleford victory against Hull FC, they came into this game four points adrift and needed a win to keep their slim hopes of Super League survival alive; however a loss would see them officially relegated.
The game got off to the worst possible start for the Trin, as Tom Briscoe crossed the whitewash in the fourth minute. Ben Reynolds was on hand to slot the extras, and Leigh led 6-0.
Wakefield needed a quick response if they had any hopes of staying in the contest, and they got exactly that as Liam Hood scored on his 250th career appearance. The former Leigh player reacted quickest to a loose ball and scampered in to put his name on the scoresheet. Mason Lino was successful with the kick and the scores were back level.
The Leopards would threaten the line in the next ten minutes that followed, and they finally got the rewards their pressure deserved as Josh Charnley put his side back in front. Ben Reynolds added his second goal of the night and the Leopards led 12-6.
Both teams would have chances to score, but to no avail. In the dying embers of the first half, Kevin Proctor was sent to the bin, making Wakefield’s challenge to pull off a famous victory that much harder.
A Wakefield error on the restart gifted Leigh the first possession of the second half, and they rubbed salt into the wound as Jack Hughes extended his sides lead to 10 points. Reynolds’ kick was unsuccessful.
The Trin again needed a swift response, and they got it as Lee Kershaw went the length of the pitch to bring Wakefield back into the game. Lino was successful off the tee again and the scores were 16-12.
Kershaw grabbed his second try of the night not long after his first. A sweeping move found the ball in Kershaw’s hand, and the winger dived over in the corner. Lino’s kick was unsuccessful; however the scores were level and Wakefield’s survival hopes were still alive.
Both teams would trade penalty goals within the space of three minutes to make the score 18-18, making for an incredibly nervy last 15 minutes at the Leigh Sports Village.
The Leopards dealt a killer blow through the boot of Gareth O’Brien as the fullback slotted a drop goal with just two minutes to go, but as the old adage goes ‘it’s not over until it’s over’, as Luke Gale knocked over a drop goal of his own to send the game to golden point.
Both teams traded pot shots at goal in the first period of golden point; however the final word would go to Leigh Leopards as Gareth O’Brien slotted the all important drop goal to confirm Wakefield Trinity’s relegation.