Rugby Union: Finale produces high anxiety

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The Independent Online
Wakefield. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17

West Hartlepool. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18

GRANDSTAND finishes do not come much grander than this. Alfred Hitchcock would have been hard pressed to pack as much uncertainty, excitement and tension into three minutes as Wakefield managed. Unfortunately for the Yorkshiremen, the underdog did not triumph. But then, College Grove is hardly Hollywood.

In fairness to Hitchcock, some of what preceded the climactic close bore too much of a likeness to

Ealing comedy. He would not have approved. Neither did Wakefield's Liverpudlian coach, Jim Kilfoyle, who masked his irritation with a neat piece of Anfield-speak: 'At least we can now concentrate on the league. Mind, if we hadn't handed West that sloppy second try, we would still be in the cup.

'We didn't win the front five

battle nor, until the second half, did we use our possession well enough and we made too many mistakes,' was Kilfoyle's damning conclusion.

He did not think it necessary to add that the West flanker Alan Brown, who scored the decisive try, was probably five yards offside when he latched on to a ball spilled by Paul Stewart from Steve Townend's suicidal pass. To have said so may have seemed uncharitable on a day when Wakefield were offloading gifts by the treeful.

Distributing most of the bounty was Wakefield's full-back Mike Jackson. It was his decision to run a penalty from under his own posts which led to Brown's try. Yet,

midway through the second half, Jackson appeared to redeem himself by creating sufficient space for Jon Sleightholme's try, which sparked the furious finale.

Jackson was far from done. His next act was to allow John Stabler to charge down a clearance for Simon Mitchell to pounce and secure what, to all intents, looked the

conclusive score. At 18-7, with 15 minutes remaining, Wakefield were surely out of it.

As West relaxed, their minds on today's fifth-round draw, two tries within a minute offered Jackson the chance to seal victory with his final conversion. It slid narrowly wide, so West can still concentrate on cup and league. To succeed in either, they must heed Kilfoyle's advice; and concentrate.

Wakefield: Tries Sleightholme, Thompson, White; Conversion Jackson. West Hartlepool: Tries O Evans, Brown, S Mitchell; Penalty

Oliphant.

Wakefield: M Jackson; J Sleightholme (P White, 56), P Maynard, D Edwards, R Thompson; S Townend, M Cawthorne; R Latham, T Garnett, R Burman, S Croft, P Stewart (capt), N Green, J Griffiths, M Sowerby.

West Hartlepool: K Oliphant; O Evans (A Parker, 56), C Lee, P Hodder (capt), D Cooke; J Stabler, S Cook; P Lancaster, S Mitchell, P Whitelock, K Westgarth (P Evans, 77), J Dixon, D Mitchell, A Brown, M Watson.

Referee: J Coulson (Consett).

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