Hull KR's fightback at Wakefield ended by Ben Cockayne's late hat-trick
Wakefield 36 Hull KR 20
Ben Cockayne's late hat-trick condemned his former Hull KR team-mates to their second defeat in two matches.
The Robins, who had looked down and out after trailing 18-0 and 24-10, had clawed their way back to within four points but Cockayne ended their fightback with three tries in the last 20 minutes.
Richard Agar's Wildcats suffered a drubbing at the hands of Bradford in their Super League opener, but were transformed by the return of 2012 player of the year Tim Smith and ever-reliable prop Andy Raleigh.
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But until Cockayne’s late burst, it seemed the sin-binning of Graeme Horne and Wakefield's Danny Kirmond were going to provide the pivotal moments.
Wakefield scored 18 points with a man advantage while Rovers responded with 10 when their opponents were down to 12 men.
Already without six members of their senior squad, Rovers lost makeshift stand-off Lincoln Withers in the very first tackle of the match.
The game was held up for four and a half minutes to enable Withers to receive treatment for a head injury, the result of an attempted tackle on Wakefield prop Justin Poore that went badly wrong.
The Robins re-shuffled and looked to have overcome the shock when left winger David Hodgson raced for the corner after collecting Michael Dobson’s pinpoint kick only for Wakefield centre Dean Collis to pull off a try-saving tackle.
And the game took a decisive twist on 16 minutes when Horne was sin-binned after referee Steve Ganson had issued the visitors with a final warning for persistent infringements.
The Wildcats were already starting to get on top and they used the extra man with telling effect to run in three converted tries during Horne’s 10-minute absence.
Hooker Paul Aiton opened the scoring, taking Smith’s offload just short of the line to dive over while centre Reece Lyne took full-back Richard Mathers’ pass to slip through a gap for his first try for the club on his home debut.
It got even better for Wakefield when skipper Kirmond broke through the Rovers line and his kick bounced immaculately into the hands of the onrushing Peter Fox, who claimed a third try.
Paul Sykes landed all three conversions to make it 18-0 but Rovers looked a different side when restored to their full complement and hit back with two tries before half-time.
Second rower Cory Paterson took a pass from Craig Hall to touch down and then returned the compliment by putting the full-back over.
Dobson succeeded with one of his conversion attempts to trim the deficit to eight points but the fightback was cut short when Smith and Mathers combined to get Collis over for Wakefield’s fourth try within three minutes of the re-start.
The Wildcats lost prop Kyle Amor a minute later after a collision with Rovers second rower Con Mika, who was put on report, and they were down to 12 men shortly afterwards when Kirmond was sin-binned for laying on in the tackle.
It was the Robins’ turn to take advantage of their extra man as they struck back with two tries in nine minutes.
Hooker Josh Hodgson forced his way over from dummy half and, after debutant Dale Ferguson knocked on over the line, winger David Hodgson touched down Dobson’s kick to the corner.
That made it 24-20 but the Wildcats made sure of the points when Cockayne went over for two tries in eight minutes, with the influential Smith involved in both scores.
The left winger then finished off a break by Fox to complete his hat-trick three minutes from the end.