St Helens came from 16-4 down to preserve their 100 per cent start to the 2014 First Utility Super League and reclaim top spot from Leeds, their next opponents, with a 24-16 victory.
Nathan Brown’s men were under-strength and well below their best in the absence of influential playmaker Luke Walsh but turned the game on its head with a scoring burst of four tries in a decisive 15-minute spell midway through the second half.
Saints, who were also without stand-off Lance Hohaia through injury, were indebted for their sixth successive victory to Paul Wellens and Jon Wilkin, who formed an unlikely half-back pairing with a combined age of 64.
Among the tryscorers was centre Matty Dawson on his debut for Saints, who also had four forwards making their first appearances of the season.
Wakefield, with the wind at their backs, made the brighter start, with centre Jimmy Keinhorst having an early try disallowed for a forward pass, while prop Nick Scruton got over the line only to fail to ground the ball.
St Helens undid much of their promising build-up work with a lack of composure on the last tackle and their first try came from deep inside their own half.
An offload by Kyle Amor, making his return to Belle Vue for the first time since he was sold by Wakefield to ease their financial crisis, got full-back Jonny Lomax into space and, from the next play, centre Josh Jones finished off a break by winger Tom Makinson by pulling free from Reece Lyne’s attempted tackle.
Makinson was wide with the conversion attempt but Saints almost increased their lead when loose forward Willie Manu reached the line only to be held up.
With half-backs Jarrod Sammut and Pita Godinet combining intelligently, Wakefield were always in the game and they drew level in the 29th minute when an inside pass from Matt Ryan, who had replaced the injured Keinhorst at right centre, got Danny Kirmond over for his side’s first try.
The Wildcats were at their most dangerous on the counter-attack and the ever-alert Sammut swooped on a loose pass from St Helens hooker James Roby to get Lyne over for the try that put them in front four minutes before half-time.
Sammut added the goal to make it 10-4 at the break and was also on target two minutes into the second half after hooker Paul McShane forced his way over dummy-half for his first Wakefield try.
Trailing 16-4, Saints’ perfect start looked set to end but they found their touch with four tries in a 15-minute spell.
Wellens combined with Wilkin to get second-rower Sia Soliola over in the 47th minute and then put in a kick that enabled Dawson to touch down.
Makinson was wide for the second time with the goal kick but the momentum was firmly with the visitors, who regained the lead in the 57th minute when Wilkin’s short pass got substitute Joe Greenwood romping through a hole in the Wildcats defence.
Makinson kicked his second goal and then demonstrated aerial acrobatics to collect Wilkin’s kick to the corner to touch down for his side’s fifth try.
The fading Wildcats lost skipper Kirmond to injury in the 64th minute which paved the way for Australian half-back Harry Siejka to make his debut and eight minutes from the end had fellow second rower Ali Lauitiiti put on report for an ugly challenge on Lomax.