Full-back Max Jowitt scored a first-half hat-trick as Wakefield continued their late-season surge with an emphatic 30-6 win over Challenge Cup winners Leeds at St Helens.
Chris Chester’s men have not looked back since being rocked by a newspaper allegation that their coach was facing a dressing-room revolt as they eased their way to a third successive win.
They were fortunate in coming up against a Rhinos team without four first-choice players who were forced to stand down through track and trace following a spate of positive Covid-19 tests at most recnt opponents Castleford.
On top of the disruption, Leeds looked jaded in their seventh match in 27 days and coach Richard Agar will have to find some fresh troops in time for a rematch between these two sides at Belle Vue on Sunday.
FULL TIME: A hat-trick from @MaxJow and a brace from Innes Senior helps Trinity to a comfortable 6-30 win over Leeds! pic.twitter.com/3M8jox50LZ
Wembley finalists Richie Myler, Tom Briscoe, Konrad Hurrell, Matt Prior and James Donaldson were all missing for the Rhinos, who had most of the early play.
Centre Alex Sutcliffe was held up over the line and prop Ava Seumanufagai was brought back for a forward pass as Wakefield rode their early luck.
Their first try came against the run of play, right winger Innes Senior – in the side in place of an injured Ben Jones-Bishop – breaking upfield to get Jowitt over for his first try on 11 minutes.
Left winger Tom Johnston then produced a break for Jowitt to score his second on 21 minutes and suddenly Wakefield were brimming with confidence.
The introduction of hooker Kyle Wood midway through the first half injected even more energy into Trinity’s attack and, after he was brought down short of the line, prop David Fifita provided a glimpse of his old form by rampaging through the Leeds defence for a trademark try.
Leeds looked to be desperate for the relief of the half-time hooter and they were caught on the hop when Jowitt forced his way over from dummy half close to the line to complete his hat-trick.
That made it 20-0 at the break, but Wakefield struggled to maintain the same intensity in the second half as Leeds clawed their way back into the game without ever threatening to overhaul the deficit.
Rhinos substitute back rower Cameron Smith had a try denied because of a forward pass and both second rower Alex Mellor and prop Mikolaj Oledzki were held up over the line.
Leeds scored their only try through winger Ash Handley following a break by centre Liam Sutcliffe. Rhyse Martin added the goal, but they finished the game with 12 men when Mellor was sin-binned for a late tackle.
Wakefield took full advantage of the extra man as centre Reece Lyne and scrum-half Ryan Hampshire each carved out tries for Senior, and Hampshire kicked his third goal.
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