Archive for the ‘Wakefield Trinity Wildcats’ Category

Season Review: Wakefield Trinity Wildcats

September 25, 2009

wakefieldPoints For: 685

Points Against: 609

Home Record: W8 L5

Away Record (including Magic weekend): W8 L6

Longest Winning Streak: 5

Longest Losing Streak: 4

Top Points Scorer: Danny Brough (178)

Top Try Scorer: Ryan Atkins (13)

Top Tackler: Jason Demetriou (738)

A tough season for Wakefield ended on a sour note as the Wildcats rather tamely fell out of the playoffs. It’s a shame, because with the gruesome season that Wakefield have endured (a player dying in preseason, another academy player dying on the pitch) reaching the playoffs is a massive achievement and one of the shining examples of John Kear’s coaching ability. 

Wakefield tended to succeed on the back of outstanding play from Danny Brough, and it was no coincidence that when he didn’t play in the playoff game against Les Cats that the Wildcats looked flat and dull. It was odd because throughout the season scoring has not been Wakefield’s problem (fourth most points in the competition). Rather, the problem was a simple one of consistency, because on their day Wakefield were as good as anyone.

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Wakefield Trinity Wildcats 16 – 25 Catalan Dragons

September 20, 2009

At two points during the second half last night, I experienced two very different emotions. About ten minutes into the second half, I felt a twinge of disappointment at how this game looked like was about to turn into a blowout. Catalan Dragons led 22-2 and Wakefield had been awful. Fifteen minutes later, I had a sudden adrenaline rush, and thought that Wakefield might acutally be able to pull this one out of the bag, after tries to Luke George (twice) and Ryan Atkins had given Wakefield hope and crucial momentum heading into the final moments. 

Alas, it wasn’t to be, but at least Wakefield managed to gain some pride back. For the majority of the game however they looked flat, lifeless, and frankly overawed by the stakes. They also looked rudderless and clearly missed the stabilizing influence of Danny Brough. Luckily for them Luke George looks like he’s going to be a stud, as he scored two tries (including one fabulous solo effort around Clint Greenshields) and showed awareness to set up another for Ryan Atkins when it looked like he might get selfish. George’s performance added a spark hitherto lacking by the Wildcats and almost brought them back into the game. 

In the end though, Wakefield had just dug themselves into too big a hole and Catalans were able to capitalize. Where the wildcats looked listless, the Dragons looked fiery and passionate, and their forward domination led to a killer performance by the backs. That’s two impressive away performances in a row for Les Cats now, and I think teams will be wary of playing this newly-confident side in knock-out football from here on in.

Playoff Preview: Wakefield Trinity Wildcats vs Catalan Dragons

September 19, 2009

R1_wakey_cats

Previous Meetings: Wakefield won both games this year, including a 34-20 game in Perpignan two weeks ago. The rest of their Super League history is split fairly evenly.

Form: Wakefield have won five matches in a row and looked pretty dominant in their game against Hull KR last week. Catalans’ form of late has been patchy but they did somehow win at St Helens last week to keep their place in the top 8.

Concerns: A minor concern over Danny Brough for Wakey, who picked up a hip injury last week. 

Thoughts: Wakefield have really come into their own of late and are proving very adept at dealing with mediocrity. This Catalans side finished eighth for a reason, namely their inconsistency which has seen them lose more games than they’ve won. COnsidering that Wakefield have already beaten them twice this season, you would have to think that the Dragons are really going to have to pull out all the stops to win this one.

This game will probably be won in the forwards (as usual). Both sides have impressive half pairings, but if one side can ominate up front then it’s going to take the other side out of their game. Wakefield have been very solid defensively of late and the Dragons will probably have to hope they can find a cutting edge out wide. If Brough doesn’t play though, that might be the best chance the Dragons have…

In Conclusion… I would be very surprised if we saw the first eighth-placed team win the Grand Final, because I’d be fairly surprised if we saw them get out of the first round. Wakefield have been in far too much of a groove lately and I expect them to deal with Les Catalans. It may end up being a close game, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see some fireworks from the forwards, but I can’t see Wakefield giving up at this stage of a difficult year.

Wakefield 16 – 32 Bradford

May 2, 2009

I’ll admit it; I was wondering if Bradford had blown it. They were still in the lead, but with Wakefield having scored two quick tries in succession it appeared the Bulls had surrendered the momentum going into the final ten minutes. 

History now shows that not only was I wrong, but that Bradford also found themselves a second wind to add another two tries to their tally to run out the victors by 16 points. This is probably a fair reflection on a game where Bradford seemed to be the better side for the most part yet somehow managed to offer Wakefield chances that they couldn’t capitalise on.

Probably the most extraordinary facet of this Bull revival in the past few weeks has been their reinvention as an attractive passing team with threat and guile out wide, seemingly at odds with the powerful forward game they are usually associated with. Both Paul Sykes and Ricky Sheriffe on the right side of the pitch seemed able to break the Wakefield defense (although if Wakefield had come back, Sheriffe would have ruefully looked back on blowing one of the easiest tries he could have scored after knocking on Ben Jeffries’ lovely chip kick). With Steve Menzies and Sam Burgess on fire in the pack, it was no wonder that Bradford ended up on top.

Credit to Wakefield though for not giving up. They were denied by the video ref on a few occasions (though only the obstruction call on Danny Sculthorpe was debatable, and I think it was the right call). They really should have been long out of the game going into the final quarter, so for them to pull it back in the manner that they did says a lot about their character. As has been well documented, it’s not been an easy season off the field for Wakefield and I think that after an admirable start the physical and emotional toll is beginning to show. However, Wakefield have overcome adversity already this season, so I think a close defeat to an on-form side is something they will find a way to get over.

Monday Musings: Wakefield Must Fight Through Season of Woe

March 23, 2009

wakefieldThere’s only one thing I can talk about, isn’t there?

I would much rather be discussing a meeting between the two biggest clubs in Britain, where Saints showed us that Leeds won’t have it all their own way this season. Or I would like to talk about how both Bradford and Warrington managed to get their seasons back on track over this weekend. I would also prefer to talk about the logjam of contenders this season, with there clearly being a good number of teams like Huddersfield, Hull FC, Harlequins and Castleford who have made dramatic strides from last year and all seem capable of beating each other.

But I can’t, because these details all pale into insignificance next to the events that took place in Wales yesterday.

The death of Leon Walker on the pitch in Maesteg yesterday was a shock to the whole game of Rugby League. Professional athletes are basically paid to keep themselves in prime condition, which makes it all the more gut-wrenching when they die in a manner like this. What made it all the more unbelievable was that this was the second Wakefield player in the last six months to abruptly die whilst on club duty, a horror which most clubs manage to avoid happening even once. It is yet another crushing blow to a club that has had an unfair amount of horror and grieving to deal with in recent times. 

Off the field, it’s hard to imagine any club could have had a worse six months than Wakefield have just had. There’s been the much publicised death of Adam Watene during training. They’ve also had the crushing blow of essentially losing Richard Moore as a player for the foreseeable future due to the onset of Crohn’s disease (no small matter itself). There was the matter of Jamie Rooney almost dying of heart failure during a routine knee operation. I’ve already even written a post about the tribulations Wakefield have been enduring this season, and that was before this latest shock. They have also had to deal with the passing on club legends like Dave Topliss. This isn’t even taking into account the relatively trivial matter of a devastating injury list that has left their squad even more threadbare. Any of these events on their own could be catastrophic to the morale of a club, so one has to wonder how Wakefield have managed thus far dealing with all of them, and how they will deal with this latest calamity.

It’s to the Wildcats’ credit that despite these afflictions they have had such a successful start to their Super League campaign. Trinity are currently fifth in the table with only two defeats. On top of that they’ve already won at Wigan and looked pretty spectacular in their only televised encounter to date this season against Warrington. Even their two defeats were very respectable, with battling losses at Leeds and Hull KR being more than some other teams have achieved at Headingley and Craven Park. It’s remarkable that John Kear has got the club enjoying such success in the face of such difficulties, but the events of Sunday will be testing his ability to manufacture a positive out of adversity to its upmost limits. 

Wakefield’s next game is the televised encounter at home against St Helens on Friday. John Kear has confirmed today that the game will be going ahead. I can only imagine that many of the players would rather be doing anything else instead of playing, and that would be perfectly understandable. But it also wouldn’t surprise me if many of them want to get out there, to have an escape from the grim realities that unfortunately surround the club at the minute, and to have a platform to give Walker and Watene a fitting tribute. I’m sure the people of Wakefield will galvanize behind them, and I’m sure they also have the best wishes of the Rugby League community, and to that end I’d like to commend the RFL for declaring that every game in the country this week (professional and amateur) will have a minute’s silence beforehand as a mark of respect to Walker. As much as tribal rivalries can cloud relationships between supporters, we should all be humane enough to feel pity towards the far-more-than-fair share of suffering that has gone on at Wakefield this year.

Leon Walker RIP

March 23, 2009

When I saw that the Celtic Crusaders-Wakefield game was called off, and I also saw that we had been having pretty nice weather lately so it couldn’t be a dodgy pitch, I knew something serious was up. I didn’t quite realise how serious…

Leon Walker, a member of the Wakefield reserve team, collapsed and died during the Celtic-Wakefield reserves match this afternoon. Apparently he collapsed after a tackle, was airlifted to Morrison Hospital in Swansea, and pronounced dead on arrival. Early indications are that it was some sort of heart attack, but there has been no official conformation yet. 

Obviously my thoughts go out to Leon’s family and friends, and also to those at the Wakefield club. This has already been an arduous season to say the least, with Adam Watene’s death, Jamie Rooney’s near-death and Richard Moore’s diagnosis with Crohn’s Disease. It’s a credit to the club that they’ve done so well on the field so far this season, and this is the last thing the club needed. Hopefully their luck will turn for the better soon, because no team deserves this.

The Curse of Wakefield

February 12, 2009

There’s a lot of stuff coming out of Wakefield Trinity at the minute which makes you wonder if they walked under a ladder, in doing so stepped in front of a black cat and were so surprised that they dropped a mirror. First of all there was the shocking death of Adam Watene in the offseason which nobody saw coming. Now it’s been revealed that both Richard Moore and Jamie Rooney have had their misfortunes with their health.

First of all, the club revealed yesterday that Moore has Crohn’s Disease. Anyone who knows about this illness will tell you that it’s a real bitch. To put itvery simply (because I’m not a doctor)  it’s an attempt by the body to fight infection in the stomach that isn’t actually there, resulting in horrible imflammation of the gut (amongst many other things). This is a very serious illness and it easily explains the weight loss that had a lot of people speculating about Moore’s health. Here’s to a speedy recovery.

As for Rooney, it turns out that during the offseason he technically died during a routine knee surgery, during when his heart stopped beating for 30 seconds after he received an anaesthetic. Luckily for him the doctors were able to resucitate him, otherwise Wakefield would be suffering from the random death of two of its players, and one’s far too much as it is.

All of this turmoil adds a context to Sunday’s win a t Wigan and makes it feel like more of an achievement. Here’s to hoping that Wakefield have a successful season and manage to overcome this quite ridiculously unproportional amount of hardship thrown their way.

Wakefield Trinity Wildcats: Watene’s death overshadows season of hope

February 6, 2009

wakefieldFor Wakefield a season of hope and promise this year has unfortunately been overshadowed by matters off the pitch. Adam Watene’s death during training was an unforeseen tragedy that could potentially destabilise any club. Trinity have reacted to this unfortunate turn of events admirably, and now they need to show that they can keep it together as they start the season. Wakefield have to find themselves some purpose from this disaster and use the memory of Watene to spur them on through what seems to be simultaneously a promising and difficult season.

Wakefield are an odd side in that they have a creative midfield group almost on a par with any other in the competition in Danny Brough, Brad Drew and the excellent-on-his-day Jamie Rooney. The problem is that they don’t have the weapons around them to be a fully effective side. It would really help Wakefield if one of their backline had a breakthough year and turned into a major threat. Damien Blanch had a very successful World Cup campaign and is likely to be their main source of tries, but they could also do with the Tony Martin and Ryan Atkins becoming more imposing this year.

Wakefield’s other problem is consistency. Last season they simply ran out of steam towards the end of the season and ended the year in a fairly bleak manner,and one win in the final third of the season is certainly not the way to get into the playoffs. It might even be a simple matter of self-belief. If John Kear can convince his players that they are good enough to compete with the best that this League has to offer it could lead to this side showing their full potential. Kear has an enviable record at getting underdogs up for the battle, but perhaps he needs to convince his players that they shouldn’t have to be underdogs.

Wakefield have finished in 8th place for the past two seasons running. To do the same again this year would mean that they have forced themselves into the playoffs and thus would be seen as something of a success. However, they are part of a chasing pack that has grown in the past few seasons and they will really have to be on the ball to make sure they get to carry on playing through September.For the memory of Watene, Wakefield need to show that they believe they are ready to take the next step up.

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