Jamie Rooney's late drop goal and Lee Briers' even later missed penalty gave Wakefield a victory yesterday that could be crucial to their prospects of avoiding relegation from Super League.
A lukewarm encounter came to the boil in the last few minutes as tries from Mark Gleeson and Richie Barnett brought the Wolves level. Briers, who had not been striking the ball with his usual precision, failed with his own drop goal attempt before Rooney - who had previously hit the post twice with conversions - put one over from 20 metres.
Warrington got their chance when Darrell Griffin was penalised 35 metres out and to the right of the posts for a high tackle on Paul Wood. On another day Briers would have put it over with ease; yesterday it went low and wide. The Wolves had lost their third match on the trot and Wakefield had improved their chances of staying clear of Wigan and the drop.
"I thought we'd lost," said the Wakefield coach Tony Smith, slightly underestimating the difficulty of the kick. "Lee Briers doesn't miss from under the sticks. But I'm really pleased for the players, because for them to have lost that would have been a travesty."
Warrington took an eight-point lead through Logan Swann's try and two Briers goals, without really starting to play.
Wakefield had been no better than in defeat by Salford last week, after which Smith made them face a fans' forum to justify themselves, but they hit the lead thanks to two instinctive pieces of rugby.
David Solomona's surging run set up Rooney for one try and Ben Jeffries' kick to the wing and Semi Tadulala's one-handed pick-up created another. Tom Saxton's long pass sent in Colum Halpenny before half-time and - after Jon Clarke and Michael Korkidas had been sent to the sin bin - Rooney added a penalty on the hour.
Despite the defeat and the loss of Swann and Gleeson with what could be long-term injuries, the Wolves coach, Paul Cullen, refused to be too downcast.
"Lee Briers has won us more games than he's lost us," he said. "There were some encouraging signs in the performance. It was a test of character and we had a go. We worked hard enough to have a chance and it just didn't come off."
Warrington: Reardon; Fa'afili, Kohe-Love, Grose, Barnett; Grix, Briers; Leikvoll, Clarke, Wood, Swann, Wainwright, Westwood. Substitutes used: Mark Gleeson, Noone, Pickersgill, Bracek.
Wakefield: Saxton; Halpenny, Atkins, Demetriou, Tadulala; Rooney, Jeffries; Griffin, March, Korkidas, Solomona, Catic, Betham. Substitutes used: Watene, MacGillivray, Field, White.
Referee: A Klein (Keighley).Reuse content