Wakefield Trinity head coach Chris Chester admitted he was “very pleased” with his side’s efforts as Trinity were edged out in a nail-biting 23-22 contest against Wigan at Emerald Headingley.
With Wakefield’s final match before the suspension coming in a Challenge Cup victory over Bradford Bulls, Trinity fans have been without Rugby League action for 149 days and their first game back did not disappoint in terms of action.
A quickfire double from Zak Hardaker and Bevan French gave the Warriors an eight-point lead on the 23rd-minute mark before an injection of pace from dummy-half saw Kyle Wood edge Trinity back into the contest.
Wakefield were dealt yet another blow just shy of the interval as Jackson Hastings’ neat grubber found Liam Marshall, who added to the Warriors’ advantage.
Jake Bibby went over 10 minutes after the restart before Wakefield found their feet. Gigot found some space on the left, his kick was expertly taken and finished by Tom Johnstone in the corner to claw Trinity back into the contest.
A late double from new boy Liam Kay set up a grand-stand finale, however, Harry Smith’s late drop-goal was enough to see Wigan head home with the points and despite the defeat, Chester was pleased with his side’s second-half display.
“I was really pleased with the effort from the boys today and we could have snatched it right at the end,” Chester told Sky Sports reporter Jenna Brooks.
“I think we probably just tried too hard in that first-half, making too many errors in the process. I am not too sure on the completion rate, but it was probably at around 50 percent.
“We spoke all week about not focusing on the new rules but on completion rates and we showed how much of a good side we are when we move the ball about and try and build some pressure.
“So, all in all, it is really disappointing that we didn’t get anything from the game, but fair play to Wigan.”
That try was Johnstone’s sixth of the season and another top-tier finish to add to an ever-growing collection.
With just three minutes on the clock, hearts were in mouths. After a tackle in the Wigan half, the England international seemed to be in some distress with his left elbow.
Nevertheless, with five months of no Rugby League, Johnstone was determined not to be beaten.
As the game passed the hour mark and a 14-point deficit to claw back, the winger worked his magic.
A nice piece of play on the left created Gigot some time, the French international proceeded to pick his head up, finding a marked Johnstone shuffling for some space on the touchline.
With the ball in mid-flight, a bandaged up, outstretched left arm clawed the ball in and touched down, producing yet another box-office finish.
The try was brilliant, but it wasn’t the only part of his game that impressed the boss.
“He was fantastic today, a great finish and it was touch and go whether he was going to carry on in that first-half because he had done something to his elbow,” Chester admitted to Sky Sports.
“Overall, it was a world-class finish, but he toughed it out today and that is what I am most proud of.
“He could have come off the field, but he wanted to stay out there and help his teammates, but, as I said, we very nearly snatched it today but it just wasn’t meant to be.”
Next up for Trinity is a trip down the M62 on Sunday 16 August as we face St. Helens at the Totally Wicked Stadium in round nine of the Betfred Super League.