King unstoppable as Warrington put paid to Wakefield's play-off hopes

Wakefield 18 Warrington 36
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The Independent Online

Matt King claimed a clinical hat-trick as Challenge Cup finalists Warrington kept their hopes of a top-two finish alive and all but ended Wakefield's Super League play-off prospects.

The classy Australian centre, 29, scored twice within the space of seven first-half minutes and completed his treble shortly after the break as the Wolves condemned John Kear's struggling side to a fourth straight defeat.

It was a bitterly disappointing afternoon for veteran Wildcats forward Jason Demetriou, who made his final home appearance for the club after six years at Belle Vue.

The 35-year-old Australian will leave at the end of the season after not being offered a new deal, and Samoan hooker Tevita Leo-Latu also bade farewell to the home fans ahead of a move to Salford.

Warrington were in a different class to their hosts and claimed the first of their seven scores in the sixth minute with as simple a try as will be seen all season. Lee Briers, who emerged as the visitors' creative fulcrum at stand-off, flighted a high kick into the right corner where the unmarked Chris Hicks touched down.

Wakefield's initial response was impressive as Demetriou and fellow second-rower Glenn Morrison punched some sizeable holes in the Wolves' defence. Yet the Wildcats were hit by a vicious sucker-punch which gave Warrington their second try in the 16th minute.

England prop Adrian Morley produced a delightful offload out of a tackle to spark a brilliant move which ripped Wakefield apart and culminated in Chris Riley sending King clear down the left channel.

Former Wakefield forward Ben Westwood could not convert either score and was errant with the boot again after his side claimed their third try in the 23rd minute. Warrington's passing was too much for the hosts as the ball was worked through several players before former Wildcats centre Ryan Atkins ushered King over in the left corner.

On the stroke of half-time, Wakefield were handed a lifeline when scrum-half Ben Jeffries showed impressive pace to escape a clutch of Warrington players and cross in the right corner. Jeffries converted to cut the visitors' lead to 10 points but Warrington claimed their fifth try within a minute of the restart as Matty Blythe's pace took him clear inside the right channel. Seven minutes later, King showed brute strength to burrow over from close range for his hat-trick try and Westwood added his third conversion.

Wakefield: Murphy, Kirmond, Johnson, Millard, Blanch, Cooke, Jeffries, Leaeno, Obst, Korkidas, Demetriou, Morrison, Leo-Latu; Replacements: Henderson, King, Moore, Rinaldi.

Warrington: Riley, Hicks, Blythe, Atkins, King, Briers, Myler, Morley, Clarke, Carvell, L Anderson, Westwood, Harrison; Replacements: Wood, Higham, Cooper, V Anderson.

Referee: Ben Thaler (Wakefield).