Sam Obst, the smallest player on the field, was the big difference between two sides who showed little of the form that has made them the over-achievers of the Super League season. The Wakefield hooker scored a try, made two more and kicked the first penalty of his career in an outstanding display He was kicking, however, in place of Danny Brough, whose hip injury will be Wakefield's major worry going into the play-offs.
Rovers, who are bidding for third place, have a number of concerns after this messy affair. Shaun Briscoe and Ben Galea both went off with injuries and Stanley Gene and Scott Wheeldon went on report for suspected high tackles.
"It wasn't a good day for us," said their coach, Justin Morgan. "But we've been in good form of late and we'll get that back next week."
Wakefield, who have a strong chance of finishing fifth, were the more convincing side from the start and they took the lead after three minutes, when the first of Obst's crafty kicks got away from Kris Welham to allow Dale Ferguson to swoop.
The Robins equalised when Clint Newton was credited by the video referee with twisting his way over the line and they would have been ahead if Peter Fox had not knocked-on with the line open. They never regained the initiative. A lost ball from Gene put them under pressure again, and Obst satisfied the video referee that he had reached the line despite Gene's desperate attempt to make amends.
Rovers began the second half ineptly, Ben Fisher fumbling at the play-the-ball. Matt Blaymire picked up and got his pass away to Richard Moore, whose strength took him over.
There was a brief hint of a Rovers revival when Fox got out of Jason Demetriou's tackle and rolled over the line. It was Obst, however, who edged the Wildcats further ahead with his penalty and he then applied the killer blow with another precise kick that fell perfectly for Aaron Murphy to score the clinching try.
Wakefield will now play their neighbours, Castleford, or the Catalans Dragons in the first round of the play-offs – at the start of the season, many tipped them for the bottom three.
"I'm really happy with what we've done tonight," said their coach, John Kear, who knows that they can play much better – and probably will do.
Super League's bottom club, the Celtic Crusaders, will not retain John Dixon as coach. The news heightens expectations that the Australian will be replaced by Wigan's Brian Noble.
Wakefield: Blaymire; Morton, Demetriou, Atkins, Murphy; Grix, Brough; Stosic, Obst, Korkidas, Wilkes, Henderson, Ferguson. Substitutes used: Winterstein, Leo-Latu Moore, Bibb.
Hull KR: Briscoe; Colbon, Walker, Welham, Fox; Cooke, Dobson; Vella, Fisher, Wheeldon, Newton, Galea, I'Anson. Substitutes used: Fisher, Gene, Netherton, Lovegrove.
Referee: S Ganson (St Helens).