Wakefield coach Chris Chester says he will sleep better after watching his side pull off a memorable 24-20 victory over Betfred Super League leaders St Helens.
Chester’s men had lost their previous five matches, the last three by a combined total of just eight points, but this time they held their nerve in a nail-biting finish to claim a first home win over Saints for six years.
After racing into a 22-6 lead with four tries in an 18-minute spell, Trinity were forced to withstand a tremendous fightback by the visitors, who cut the deficit to just two points early in the second half and were pressing their line right to the end of a thrilling contest.
“I aged about 10 years in the last five minutes but I couldn’t be more proud of my players,” Chester said.
“We’ve been there or thereabouts for the last five games and it’s nice to win a tight one today. I feel we deserve it and it will do the players a world of good.
“I’m really pleased, it means I can sleep a bit better tonight.
“The players copped a fair bit but they stuck together and came up with a really good performance. Barring the first couple of minutes, I thought we were very good.
“St Helens are a fantastic attacking team but we put them under pressure with the way we defended.
“It’s a massive win for the club but it will mean nothing if we don’t back it up at Salford next Friday. After going on a losing run, it’s important we now go on a winning run.”
Chester says he dropped winger Tom Johnstone, who is in England coach Wayne Bennett’s elite training squad, as well as forward Pauli Pauli and half-back Ryan Hampshire, after a run of disappointing form.
“They know the reasons,” Chester said. “It sends a clear message to the rest of the group that, if they’re not doing their job, they will find themselves sat on the sidelines with me.
“Everybody who came into the team today deserves to keep their spot.”
England centre Mark Percival scored two first-half tries, taking his total for the season to 12, but was sin-binned just before the end for using foul and abusive language to touchjudge Chris Kendall as Saints went down to their second defeat of the season.
The leaders were without skipper James Roby because of a rib cartilage injury but coach Justin Holbrook refused to use his absence as an excuse.
“You don’t replace players like that easily but it didn’t have a bearing on it,” Holbrook said.
“I was disappointed with our effort today. It was a close game but we couldn’t come away with the win.
“Full credit to Wakefield, I thought they just worked harder than us.
“Obviously we kept going to the end but when you look back (at) that 18-minute period, it cost us. It was unlike us to let some soft tries in.”