Wakefield Trinity and Catalans Dragons faced off at Belle Vue on Thursday night as both sides looked to stamp their authority on the league after less than impressive starts.
Wakefield had no wins from their first two games and Catalans looked to make it two out of three.
Danny Brough made his 500th career appearances as he started for Wakefield as with David Mead for the Dragons after personal leave, which meant Brayden Williame moved out to the wing and Matt Whitley into the forwards.
The returning Foaud Yaha did not feature for the Dragons.
The opening stages of the game were very laboured with Tony Gigot kicking too heavy over the dead ball line and Wakefield making a couple of handling errors.
Ryan Hampshire looked as if he had broken the deadlock just before the 10th minute but Chris Kendall pulled the play back for the an obstruction on Kenny Edwards but in the replay it look as though Trinity were unlucky not to score.
Just over five minutes later though, Wakefield were over the line again. A knock-on from Catalans just 30 metres out gave Trinity a chance to attack. They did so and after the ball was shifted to the left hand wing, Tom Johnstone dived into the corner and dotted the ball down while under pressure from Sam Tomkins and Williame. Brough added the extra.
Their lead didn’t last long though, an offload from Mickael Simon gave the Dragons an extra man on the right hand side and David Mead released Samisongi Langi who raced 10 metres to score just by the posts. Tomkins levelled the scores as the 20 minute mark ticked by.
A back and forth game continued and Catalans were dealing with the physicality of the Wakefield pack well, winning at the ruck. This dominant display led to Sam Moa winning a penalty for interference at the play the ball right in front of the Trinity posts. Tomkins slotted the penalty attempt and the Dragons led by two points after half an hour.
However, Tony Gigot dropped Danny Brough’s kick off and Wakefield attacked from ten metres out. It only took two tackles for Chris Chester’s side to get over the line as David Fifita powered over from five metres out with five Dragons defenders on top of him. Brough once again added the extras and the home side led by four.
A late tackle on Kyle Wood gave Trinity the opportunity to extend their led further and Brough duly delivered as he slotted his penalty attempt through the uprights to make it a six point lead.
Further ill-discipline from Catalans in their own half meant that Wakefield had more good field position and with Brough and Miller in the halves, the home-side were always going to be a threat from the kick. It was Brough who put a prefect grubber behind the Dragons defensive line and James Batchlor picked up nicely to dot down once more. Brough continued at 100% from the tee to make to 20-8.
After forcing a goal-line drop out, Wakefield matched straight back inside the Dragons 20 metre line but Brough dragged his drop-goal attempt wide just as the half-time hooter blew.
HALF-TIME: Wakefield Trinity 20-8 Catalans Dragons
Despite being physicality dominant towards the end of the first and start of the second half, Wakefield over stepped the mark slightly as Keegan Hirst clattered Jason Baitieri with a high shot and the replacement prop was sent to the sin-bin.
Catalans didn’t make the extra-man count though as they were still ill-disciplined in defence and Wakefield held on strong.
However, as soon as Hirst returned to the field Samisoni Langi twisted and turned to get himself over the line and dot the ball down for his second try. Tomkins missed the conversion attempt and Wakefield’s lead was now eight points with just under an hour gone.
Sam Tomkins looked to force the issue in attack and then put more pressure on his side after conceding a penalty in front of his own posts. Brough once again delivered from the boot and Wakefield led 22-12 with 15 minutes remaining.
With the game seemingly drifting away from the Dragons, frustration was brewing for the French side and Jason Baitieri hit Tinirau Arona with a late tackle and Chris Kendall sent the Frenchman to the sin-bin.
After an accidental slip from Sam Moa, both sets of players seemed to find something out of order, despite no foul play in the action that occurred.
A poor decision from Tinirau Arona to delay the restart of the game led to Kendall sending the player to the sin-bin and both sides went down to 12 with just under 10 minutes left on the clock.
A delay to the game then followed after David Mead picked up a serious leg injury during a tackle with David Fifita and Matty Ashurst. Both Wakefield and Catalans doctors treated the centre and the stretched Papau New Guinea international off the park.
Jason Baitieri had just reentered the field but after sloppy play from both sides in the final few minutes there was no more action and Wakefield picked up their first win of the season.
FULL-TIME: Wakefield Trinity 22-12 Catalans Dragons
Man of the Match – Danny Brough
After two disappointing performances from the Scottish half-back this was probably one of the best all-round performances that Brough has ever put in for any side. His kicking game from open play allowed Wakefield to take control of the game at the end of the first half and 100% accuracy from the boot was just an added extra for an improved Trinity performance.
Ryan Hampshire, Ben Jones-Bishop, Reece Lyne, Bill Tupou, Tom Johnstone, Jacob Miller, Danny Brough, David Fifita, Kyle Wood, Anthony England, James Batchelor, Matty Ashurst, Tinirau Arona.
Subs: Justin Horo, George King, Craig Kopczak, Keegan Hirst.
James Batchelor, David Fifita, Tom Johnstone.
Danny Brough (5/5)
Keegan Hirst, Tinirau Arona
Sam Tomkins, David Mead, Samisoni Langi, Brayden Williame, Lewis Tierney, Tony Gigot, Matty Smith, Mika Simon, Micky McIlorum, Sam Moa, Kenny Edwards, Matt Whitley, Remi Casty.
Subs: Benjamin Garcia, Mickael Goudemand, Antoni Maria, Jason Baitieri
Samisoni Langi (2)
Sam Tomkins (2/3)