A youthful Wakefield Trinity side came up short on Saturday against Newcastle Thunder at Kingston Park.
Thunder, who are the early favourites to top Betfred League One in 2019, named an experienced side with Liam Finn steering the ship at scrum-half.
They got off to a great start and Finn, along with experienced half-back partner Jy-Mel Coleman, guided their team around the park well.
Newcastle came out of the blocks pretty quickly and were dominant in the first-half. And although Trinity showed considerable improvement in the second-half, Thunder had enough to hold on.
Finn and impressive full-back, Lewis Young combined to put Alex Clegg in for the first of his two tries on just two minutes.
Clegg then went over for his second just ten minutes later, beating opposite number Harry van Der Val to the ball after a lovely-weighted kick from Coleman. Finn was on target with the boot from out wide.
Trinity started to enjoy a period of possession and understandably, back-rower Pauli Pauli, was proving hard to handle during that spell. Pauli’s afternoon was cut short just minutes after, though, as he limped from the field with what is thought to be a knee injury.
With the strike and physical presence missing from the right-edge that Pauli was occupying, Trinity struggled to ask any real questions of the Thunder defence for the remainder of the first-half.
Full-back Young had already shown the threat he possesses, with his raw pace and footwork causing issues for Wakefield’s defence from minute one. And he further demonstrated his qualities ten minutes before the break when he picked up a loose ball after some loose Trinity handling, to race over 50 metres and cross for Thunder’s third try. Finn kicked the simple conversion to give his side a comprehensive 16-0 lead going into the break.
Trinity’s first-team players were all sacrificed during the second-half to allow the Under 19’s an opportunity and they stood up in admirable fashion, with Connor Bailey and Oli Greensmith particularly impressing.
Bailey was rewarded for his efforts and crossed for the second-half’s only try when he was the first to react to a loose Newcastle pass. The young back-rower showed a clean pair of heels and despite the attention of Young, he managed to have enough pace to get over the line. Luke Hooley, who showed some nice touches at full-back, added the simple conversion.
In terms of points, that was it for the afternoon. But both sides continued to play an attractive style and young Trinity halves, Tom Ashen and Owen Hughes, showed promising signs.
Newcastle went close to extending their lead on a couple of occasions, but some dogged defence from Trinity kept the home side out.
Trinity’s Head Of Youth, Mark Applegarth, was proud of the young Trinity outfit.
The former Wakefield, Batley and York forward said: “I have to take my hat off to the young lads on show, especially in the second-half. To front up against a big Newcastle pack and some smart established halves, was particularly impressive.”