Super League: James Webster hails Wakefield Wildcats drive; Brian McDermott left heartbroken
Last Updated: 04/07/14 11:24pm
Unbeaten Wakefield Wildcats coach James Webster said their chance was always coming after watching his side snatch a late 16-14 victory against rivals Leeds Rhinos at the Rapid Solicitors Stadium.
The Wildcats went into Friday's derby showdown having been embarrassed twice this season by their neighbours, who knocked them out of the Challenge Cup with an emphatic 60-6 romp in Wakefield before a 44-6 Super League success the following week.
However Webster, who took the reins from Richard Agar at the start of June, punched the air with delight after watching Richard Owen touch down a last-gasp try to secure a memorable triumph for the Wildcats.
Danny Washbrook had put the hosts in front early on but two tries in quick succession from Kallum Watkins and Ben Jones-Bishop saw the Rhinos take an 8-6 lead into the break and they looked to have turned the tables after Richard Mathers’ second-half try nudged Wakefield ahead.
Ryan Hall latched onto Danny McGuire’s high kick to touch down before the latter made a 60-metre break of his own, only to be denied by the video referee and the Wildcats pounced as Owen slid over in the right corner with seconds left on the clock.
"We've worked on the basis that if you work hard enough and show enough commitment, come the last 10 minutes you’ll always get a chance," Australian coach Webster told Sky Sports.
"Whether you’re playing Leeds or a team in the Challenge Cup from a lesser division, it doesn't matter.
"We always knew that if we worked hard enough we were going to get a chance and full credit to our team, they came up at the right time."
Since taking over from Agar, Webster has now overseen three victories and a draw, but the 34-year-old was quick to point to the commitment of his ambitious squad.
"To have it snatched away from us at the death there, without wanting to sound dramatic, was heart-breaking."
"It's not about me," Webster reiterated. "It's about our boys, our whole squad has had to deal with a lot of stuff this year and I think the turning point was when they decided they wanted to be a proper team and a realistic force.
"Rugby league is a tough game but when you commit to the cause you can do anything."
Meanwhile, Rhinos head coach Brian McDermott was left disconsolate by the manner of their defeat but, despite missing the opportunity to move to the Super League summit, refused to offer any excuses.
"It's disappointing the way we lost," McDermott said. "To have it snatched away from us at the death there, without wanting to sound dramatic, was heart-breaking.
"We could smell the win but it just got taken away right at the end. It was an even contest throughout; Wakefield defended really and I thought we defended well at times too.
"It was greasy out there, it's a good firm surface, but there was lots of greasy ball to deal with but I don’t have much complaint that Wakefield won the game."
The Rhinos were without eight first-choice players ahead of the short trip to Wakefield and their injury woes were further compounded by the loss of captain Kevin Sinfield due to a back injury before kick-off.
McDermott was forced to change his plans after the warm-up and admits blooding new talent at the elite level is an important part of their development as a club.
"This is all part of the journey," reflected McDermott. "We have to highlight the areas where some of the young fellas should have been stood or the balls they should have caught.
"If we are going to progress and become a better team then we have to go through these moments.
"It's hard. You lose some games at the start of the season and it can help you improve, but it's always hard to lose. We will be better for it."