Mark Applegarth explains Wakefield Trinity’s remarkable win over Leeds Rhinos and has say on Hugo Salabio red card

WAKEFIELD TRINITY finally ended their 2023 drought with their first win of the Super League season against Leeds Rhinos.

Trinity were fully deserving of the 24-14 win, and, even with 12 men Wakefield rallied to hit Leeds for six.

Head coach Mark Applegarth was overjoyed to say the least for his first win of the year.

“It feels good, we’ve said all along it’s about the team and I’m really chuffed. People have been questioning the team spirit behind the scenes and I think they have answered a few questions today,” Applegarth said.

“We have done it tough and given ourselves a fighting chance and that’s what we are bothered about. It’s never nice when you have a prolonged period like that, I’ve tried not to blame anything and I’m just really pleased with the lads that went out.

“When we went down to 12 men it would have been easy to roll over but they dug in. I’m a proud coach tonight.

“We talked about confidence and composure, we have some good rugby in us but we have left it until the last ten minutes to show what we can do.

“The first 20 minutes we moved the ball around and tired Leeds out and got some errors out of them. We started showing what we have been doing on the training field out on the pitch.”

One man who played was centre Jack Croft, who was carried off at the Magic Weekend with what looked like a serious injury.

“We got clearance on Sunday evening, he had all the scans and the medical team said it would be how he responded to the spasms and training.

“He was training on Tuesday and got some contact into him on Friday. It’s not often you see lads getting stretchered off one week and playing the next.”

Applegarth also had special words for French trialists Hugo Salabio and Romain Franco despite the former being red carded for a dangerous throw on Richie Myler – something which the Wakefield boss had no qualms about.

“The two French lads who came on trial impressed. Obviously Hugo is really disappointed he has got that red card but before that he put himself about and Romain looked dangerous every time he got the ball

“I thought it was a red, no question about it. He knocked on and there wasn’t any malice in it and fair play to Richie (Myler) for getting straight back up. He was dumped his head and there are no qualms from us whatsoever.”

Applegarth had special words for three players in particular.

“I thought it could have gone or two ways, but we were confident at half-time that if we kept moving the ball around we would cause Leeds problems.

“Matty Ashurst, Jay Pitts and Sam Hewitt were unbelievable with their work rate. I thought Tash (Ashurst) put in a real captain’s shift. I thought Morgan Smith stepped up to the plate. I thought he answered a few critics today.

“Jay Pitts should not have played today, he would have played on one leg and I’m glad we can freshen things up with the week off.”

The Wakefield head coach also had a special mention for the people around him, supporting him through the tough period.

“It gets that monkey off the back, when you’ve lost that many games it’s not a nice feeling, I’ve never had to deal with anything like that at a coaching level.

“Hopefully we can kick on, we have 12 players due back for the Hull KR game barring Kelepi (Tanginoa) who has had surgery on a broken arm.

‘I’ve got a lot of good people around me, I never try and get too high or low. I suppose it comes with the territory when you sign up to a job like this.

“When my wife has got to read comments about certain fans throwing abuse at you, it’s more them I was worried about.

“I’d like to thank John (Minards – Wakefield chairman) and Michael (Carter – Trinity CEO) for them as well as they have had some abuse.”