Rugby League: Poching takes charge

Halifax Blue Sox 16 Wakefield Trinity 36
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The Independent Online
A MATCH that followed the inverted logic of this season saw both these sides continue to move in directions that few predicted for them.

Three months ago Halifax were starting out full of confidence after finishing third in the Super League last year; Wakefield's role looked likely to be that of discrediting promotion as a concept for the foreseeable future. But Halifax's decline, accelerated by crippling financial problems, has been matched by Wakefield's astonishing emergence as contenders for the top half of the table.

Inspired by the skills of Willie Poching and Shane Kenward, they showed again last night that they can be this year's surprise success story, just as Halifax were last.

Even before the scoring began, both sides had tries disallowed. Halifax came up with the first legitimate one, Graham Holroyd going through the middle and Damian Gibson arriving in support; it barely made a dent in the self-belief Wakefield have built up over the last month.

Three tries in 11 minutes set them on their way to their fifth win in a row. First Poching got a superb ball away to Andy Fisher, then Poching - a player of rare talent now producing some of the best rugby of a chequered career - ploughed over for one of his own.

When Kenward released David March, Trinity were threatening to overrun their hosts. Even when Gavin Clinch's pass sent Darryl Cardiss over for a reply, Wakefield immediately regained possession with a touch-finder from the kick-off and Kenward again supplied the final pass, this time to the substitute Frank Watene.

Danny Seal went through some weak tackling for a try to raise the Halifax hopes early in the second half.

If Kenward and Andy Hodgson had not combined to tackle Oliver Marns into touch, a genuine fight back was a possibility, but Des Clark was sin-binned for tackling Poching from offside and Adam Hughes' fifth success from as many kicks put the lead back into double figures.

Hughes also provided the final pass for Neil Law as Trinity reasserted their control, before going over himself nine minutes from time and landing his sixth goal.

Halifax: Cardiss, Pinkney, Gibson, Bouveng, Marns, Holroyd, Clinch, Broadbent, Seal, Skerrett, Clark, Mercer, Moana. Substitutes: Marshall, Hobson, Gillespie, Fearon.

Wakefield: Kenward, Hodgson, Bunker, Hughes, Law, P March, Tomlinson, Stephenson, D March, Field, Price, Fisher, Poching. Substitutes: Songoro, Jackson, McDonald, Watene.

Referee: S Presley (Castleford).