Sykes earns Wakefield late draw
Paul Sykes belatedly found his range with the boot to earn Wakefield a 23-23 draw against Salford, delivering a dramatic 78th-minute drop goal.
Former St Helens star Alan Hunte is holding the shop for the Reds while extrovert owner Marwan Koukash embarks on a public search for a replacement for Phil Veivers, who lost his job a week ago.
With the likes of ex-international coaches Brian Noble and Tim Sheens being mentioned, Hunte is not expected to be given the nod, but he was told he would be given a chance to impress and, despite the late drama, did not disgrace himself.
His men were outscored by four tries to five but, thanks to Sykes' record of one conversion from five, thought they had won it with seven minutes left when Marc Sneyd landed a one-pointer.
But Sykes would have a say to give Wakefield something and they may well now take issue with a 40th-minute Sneyd penalty they felt did not go between the posts.
Wakefield had been unfortunate to lose close-run games against Huddersfield and Catalan in their last two outings, but their winger Peter Fox had come out of the latter of those clashes with unfavourable reports.
The former England winger showed no signs of shyness early on, though, and gave his side a second-minute lead as he went in for the fifth game in a row.
Justin Poore's huge hit on Andrew Dixon brought the ball loose and, once Richard Mathers had sent possession right to Dean Collis, Fox was well placed to touch down on an overlap.
Even though Sykes failed to convert it was a start Hunte could have done without, but his men drew level with 13 minutes on the clock as Jodie Broughton snaffled his first of the season after a Matty Ashurst break carved Wakefield open.
Like Sykes, Sneyd was unable to goal but he had no such problems as the 20-minute mark passed, splitting the posts from bang in front after Lee Jewitt ran off the Salford bench and dived over the line from close range with his first touch.
If Salford had been targeting Wakefield's right side, then the Wildcats were going after their left and with 12 minutes of the first half remaining, they burst it open with a brilliant last-tackle try.
Tim Smith's no-look pass allowed captain Mathers to go through and he played Collis in for a score, although Sykes' conversion failure left Salford just ahead.
And they pushed further in front just seconds later as Theo Fages, playing for the first time since he was knocked out cold in France last month, stumbled in.
Tim Smith would get Wakefield running again, however, with another brilliant pass finding the midriff of Frankie Mariano who did the rest, the try coming after the home side had won a scrum against the feed.
Sneyd's penalty on the hooter gave Salford a four-point half-time lead and that was doubled seven minutes after the restart, as Jack Murphy cashed in a free run to the line after a Mathers pass was coughed up by Lee Smith.
In keeping with the game, a response was not long in coming as Danny Washbrook slid over off another Tim Smith pass, but Sykes' third failure left the gap at four points and when Smith limped off injured with 20 minutes left, Salford looked to be in the driving seat.
Wakefield would change that, though, levelling things up with 13 minutes left as Ben Cockayne celebrated his England call-up this week with a seventh try of the season after good work from Ali Lauitiiti, but again, Sykes was off-beam with the kick.
Sneyd had hardly had a stellar afternoon with the boot himself, but there was nothing wrong with his accuracy when he landed a one-pointer, with the same eventually applying to Sykes.
Hello, regular commenting on Orange News and Sport pages closes on Thursday 30 May 2013. We will continue to provide a commenting facility on major news and sport events on orangeworld.co.uk. Contact us via http://oran.ge/OWfeedback if you have any further questions. Thanks.