Wakefield on course for first-ever top-four finish after impressive rout of Widnes

Widnes 12 Wakefield 34: Trinity cruised to victory at St James' Park but the Vikings' season-long struggles continue

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The Independent Online

Wakefield maintained their challenge for a first-ever top-four finish in the Betfred Super League with an impressive 34-12 rout of bottom club Widnes in the opening game of the Dacia Magic Weekend in Newcastle.

Not even the arrival of Rangi Chase could lift the Vikings out of the doldrums as their patched-up side paid the price for an error-strewn first half at St James' Park.

Chase, who has joined Widnes on loan from Castleford, made a low-key debut alongside two other borrowed players, winger Jack Johnson and second rower Sam Wilde, as coach Denis Betts seeks an end to his club's season-long struggle.

They were out of contention by half-time, when they trailed 16-0, before upping their game in the second half while an impressive performance from young winger Ryan Ince provided another crumb of comfort for the Widnes fans.

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Hep Cahill goes over to score for Widnes (PA)

Wakefield were good value for only their fourth win in 11 Magic Weekend appearances and a second convincing victory of the season over the Vikings lifted them up to fifth in the table.

Trinity were the livelier side from the start but it took them 17 minutes to open the scoring and they needed a slice of good fortune to help them on their way.

Chase's first meaningful contribution was an unfortunate one as Wakefield right winger Ben Jones-Bishop picked off his pass to race upfield. Ince showed tremendous pace to get back and pull off a tackle but it only delayed the inevitable, with full-back Scott Grix forcing his way over two plays later for the first of his two tries.

Five minutes later Widnes prop Gil Dudson handed over possession on his own 20-metre line and watched his side's defence open up invitingly for centre Reece Lyne to stroll through for Wakefield's second try.

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Scott Grix is upheld by Chris Houston and Rangi Chase (PA)

Another handling error, this time from Johnson, near his own line helped Wakefield maintain the pressure and it told seven minutes before the break when they moved the ball out to the left where Grix dummied his way over for his second try.

Liam Finn's touchline conversion made it 16-0 and the Vikings' misery was compounded by the sin-binning of replacement hooker Lloyd White for a dangerous tackle on winger Mason Caton-Brown.

Widnes were still down to 12 men when Wakefield capitalised on another crucial handling error by their opponents a minute into the second half, with Grix's pass giving Jones-Bishop an unopposed dive to the corner.

Another touchline conversion from Finn made it 22-0 but Widnes pulled a try back five minutes later when centre Ed Chamberlain cleverly worked some space for 20-year-old Ince, who sidestepped Grix to score his first try for the club.

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David Fifita is brought down by the Widnes defence (PA)

Chamberlain added the goal and the score breathed new life into the Vikings, who looked the better team for long periods of the second half.

They managed to put Wakefield under intense pressure for the first time but without finding the composure to make it count.

Finn increased his side's lead with a 62nd-minute penalty and Wakefield wrapped up the victory when a delightful pass out of the tackle by Lyne enabled Jones-Bishop to grab his second try.

Second rower Matty Ashurst swooped on a stray pass from Chase to go over for Wakefield's sixth try and Finn kicked his fifth goal before loose forward Hep Cahill grabbed a late consolation for the Vikings.

HULL 0 ST HELENS 45

Justin Holbrook enjoyed a dream start to life as St Helens head coach after his new charges stormed to an upset 45-0 victory over in-form Hull at St James' Park.

Holbrook was expected to have a watching brief before officially taking charge on Monday but was clearly giving the orders for Saints, who ended Hull's five-match winning run in staggering style.

The Airlie Birds had the opportunity to go top of Betfred Super League for 24 hours at least but found their opponents an almost unrecognisable prospect to the side that had shipped 93 points in their previous two matches.

Saints were thrashed 53-10 by Castleford last week to crash out of the Challenge Cup, a defeat that forward Kyle Amor said left him reluctant to leave the house.

But two tries from Alex Walmsley and Regan Grace, plus further scores from Ryan Morgan, Morgan Knowles, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook and Tommy Makinson turned the form book well and truly on its head.

PA

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