Game one of day two at Magic Weekend pitting winless Wakefield Trinity against the in-form Leigh Leopards.
When the Magic Weekend fixtures were announced many would have assumed this would be a big relegation battle but in reality a win for the Leopards could send them third.
If Leigh were to win by 30 points or more then they’d jump into third place on the ladder and leave Wakefield six points adrift.
The fact that the Leopards have beaten Trinity twice in the past six weeks doesn’t give much reason for faith among the Wakefield fans.
What could give them a boost though was the return of Dave Fifita with the Big Bopper going straight into the team.
Your Magic 17. 🪄
— Wakefield Trinity (@WTrinityRL) June 4, 2023
Will Dagger also moves into the halves to accommodate Max Jowitt whilst loanee Sam Hewitt slots into the front row.
As for the Leopards they had a very familiar side starting for them, one that has won six on the bounce in both league and cup.
— Leigh Leopards (@LeighLeopardsRL) June 4, 2023
A late change came during warm-ups which saw Kai O’Donnell drop out, with Tom Nisbet promoted to the bench and then Ed Chamberlain becoming the 18th man.
Lam opens scoring for Leigh
Lachlan Lam has been nominated for May player of the month and he showed why inside 10 minutes when he broke free 40 metres out and beat full-back Max Jowitt. Questions could be asked over Robbie Mulhern and obstruction with Jay Pitts clearly being prevented from making a tackle.
Just ahead of the 15 minute mark Robbie Mulhern was the beneficiary of a smart, if not slightly forward, pop pass from Tom Amone allowing him to cross over. From the immediate kick-off it was the Irishman who took the carry and knocked on from contact. Trinity failed to capitalise with panicky play in the Leigh 20 before eventually committing another error.
Reynolds sees red
It didn’t take long for Dave Fifita to make an impact and that came through inciting a moment of madness from Ben Reynolds. Leigh’s kicker first went high and late and then his reaction to Fifita’s rightful complaint saw him punch the big man and see red.
Leigh lose another man
Just minutes after Ben Reynolds saw red the Leopards were down to 11. Jay Pitts was dragged down from behind in a style akin to a hip drop tackle by Tom Nisbet and so the Leigh man was sent for 10 for dangerous contact.
Wakefield failed to utilise the territory or the two man advantage and then compounded that with more errors and erratic play style. Tom Lineham then dropped one in the corner which summed up Trinity’s season.
Leopards march on
The first team to score in the second-half would be crucial and unfortunately for Wakefield it was another Leigh try. Lachlan Lam opted to run on the short side on the last and he freed up Leutele on the wing, who has support from Nisbet who played in Ipape to effectively ice the game at 16-0. Hardaker added a further two just minutes later from in front of the posts to make it a three score lead.
Big injury delay
Worrying scenes saw Jack Croft go down injured and eventually leave the field on a stretcher with Josh Charnley immediately calling for medics. After the ten minute delay to ensure Croft received the necessary attention it was Leigh who kept fresh best and scored again, Charnley once again scoring.
Wakey finally score
Trinity finally got on the board but not before Lachlan Lam somehow powered his small frame over from five out. It was Wakefield’s star man who got the score after 70 minutes when Max Jowitt pinned his ears back and charged over.
With it being Magic Weekend it’s a time for teams to show off their new kits and potentially raise money for some charities, something Leigh have done brilliantly. Despite this the two sides ended up wearing white and grey making some of the interactions hard to view.
Leigh the real deal?
They were touted for relegation but now there’s not just a chance they can make the playoffs, but a likelihood that Leigh will make the top six. They’re now becoming contenders for that top four and a home game in the initial round of the playoffs.
Final nail in Trinity coffin
It’s been said for a few weeks that Wakefield needed to get their first win before Castleford got their third, and with the Tigers defeating Leeds last night the job of Wakefield got that bit bigger. Playing against 12 men for almost an hour, and against 11 at times, Wakefield never really looked likely to score never mind challenge.
Another concerning injury
For the second day in a row the first game saw a player leave the field on a stretcher. Thankfully James Batchelor was fine, as he tweeted last night, but there was huge concerns for young Jack Croft when he left the field just prior to the hour mark.
Weak Wakefield defence
It’s been said at times this season that Wakefield don’t have that bad a defence but against 12 men today they were made to look very poor. As demoralising as losing every game of the season is it still is hard to explain how a half as small as Lachlan Lam can bully himself over despite being initially tackled five metres out.
Max Jowitt – 6
Jorge Taufua – 4
Liam Kay – 4
Jack Croft – 5
Tom Lineham – 4
Will Dagger – 6
Mason Lino – 5
Josh Bowden – NA (Early failed HIA)
Liam Hood – 4
Kevin Proctor – 4
Matty Ashurst – 5
Sam Hewitt – 4
Jay Pitts – 5
Harry Bowes – 6
Eddie Battye – 5
David Fifita – 5
Jordy Crowther – 5
Gareth O’Brien – 6
Tom Briscoe – 6
Zak Hardaker – 7
Ricky Leutele – 8
Josh Charnley – 8
Ben Reynolds – 2
Lachlan Lam – 9
Tom Amone – 8
Edwin Ipape – 7
Robbie Mulhern – 8
Tom Nisbet – 8
Oliver Holmes – 7
John Asiata – 7
Ava Seumanufagai – NA
Nathan Wilde – 6
Matty Davis – NA
Joe Mellor – 6