Harlequins RL suffered a 28 – 14 reversal away at Wakefield Trinity Wildcats this evening and can rue their luck as a string of dubious decisions swung the result in favour of the home side. The consistency with which controversial decisions went in favour of a solid Wildcats side arguably gave them the momentum with which to build their score, although the Quins only have themselves to blame for the poor handling and decision-making that saw too much possession squandered.
The first dubious decision came courtesy of video referee Ben Thaler after seven minutes when Wakefield standoff Jamie Rooney appeared to push the ball forward over the Quins try line but was given the benefit of the doubt. Mark McLinden subsequently had Quins reply chalked out by Thaler for a very dubious obstruction call.
There were no doubts about Wakefield’s second try from Ryan Atkins on twenty-two minutes, but Paul White’s try ten minutes later was given despite the final ball coming from a telegraphed forward pass ignored by the officials. It was the stroke of half-time before Scott Hill finally got the Quins on the scoreboard with a try in the corner to send the sides in at 14 – 4.
When Quins had a second try chalked out by Thaler after the break for an even more dubious obstruction decision it was clear that this was not to be their night. Fifty-two minutes in Wakefield forward Ned Catic took advantage of some poor play from Quins to pile on the pressure and the visitors looked to be out for the count. However ten minutes later Jon Wells finally found his way over the line, minutes after having a try chalked off in one of the video referee’s few sensible calls of the evening.
Arguably the most controversial moment of the game came after sixty-five minutes when Wakefield prop Ricky Bibey’s forearm smash on standoff Hill left the Quins man dazed with a gashed head that required off field treatment. The incident went unmissed by all the officials, leading to a moment of black humour a couple of minutes later when Julien Rindaldi conceded a penalty for a sloppy high tackle that rode up off the shoulder. It will be interesting to see whether the RFL take a hard line on Bibey given the governing body’s historic inconsistent approach to such offences.
Needing to score points quickly Quins decided to throw the ball around in the final quarter with largely unsuccessful results. Impressive Wakefield centre Atkins added a second try with five minutes to go putting the result beyond any doubt, before Tyrone Smith finally worked his way over for a Quins consolation try in the last minute.
Despite the poor officiating Wakefield proved good value for the win, completing a solid, well drilled performance that capitalised on Quins mistakes. Coach Brian McDermott will be concerned about the amount of possession his side turned over, as well as the injury toll to his already paper thin side which saw skipper Rob Purdham and fellow second-rowers Henry Paul and Lee Hopkins fail to complete the game.
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats: (14) 28
Tries: Rooney, Atkins 2, White, Catic
Goals: Rooney 4
Harlequins RL: (4) 14
Tries: Hill, Wells, Smith