St Helens coach Keiron Cunningham was a relieved man after watching his side edge a 14-try feast at Wakefield to keep alive their Super League top-four hopes.
Saints were never behind once prop Greg Richards scored his first try for the club on 18 minutes but they could never pull clear of a spirited Wakefield, for whom stand-off Jacob Miller scored his second hat-trick of the season.
The home side trailed only 34-32 when Liam Finn and Ben Jones-Bishop went over for tries in the space of five minutes in the final quarter but Finn was wide with the conversion that would have levelled the scores and Saints pulled away to secure a 44-32 victory that takes them to within four points of fourth-placed Catalans Dragons.
“From us taking the lead, we looked like we were just doing enough to be in control of the game,” Cunningham said. “A lot of the points were gifted to Wakefield.
“We weren’t clinical enough with our discipline and our completion was really poor you’ve but got to give players credit for keeping finding a way to get in front and holding onto a lead.
“I am sure the spectators got their money’s worth today. They are always similar games when we come to Wakefield. I was worried because I know Wakefield have lots of points in them but so have we. We just needed to get in the right parts of the field and luckily enough we did.
“It speaks in bucket-loads for the team, that the confidence is coming through, we just have to be smarter in the final third. I would have taken the two points before the game.”
Full-back Jonny Lomax scored two of Saints tries with the others coming from Matty Fleming, Jordan Turner, Morgan Knowles and Mark Percival, who also kicked six goals.
The defeat leaves Wakefield, who are through to the last four of the Challenge Cup, with work still to do to secure a top-eight finish.
“We’re not worried,” said coach Chris Chester. “We can’t keep relying on teams below us to keep losing.
“We know we need at least another point and they’re not easy fixtures we’ve got left. We’ve just got to dust ourselves down and have crack on Friday night at Wigan.
“I was disappointed with the first 40 minutes today. We dropped off a lot of tackles and had to do far too much defending.
“I thought we showed some decent character to get ourselves back into the game but we didn’t show any patience.
“We got what we deserved.”
Wakefield will anxiously wait to discover the extent of the lower leg injury sustained by winger Tom Johnstone after he took his try tally for the season to 17.
“He’s on crutches,” Chester said. “We don’t know what the injury is. He’ll go for an X-Ray tomorrow and, if need be, we’ll get it scanned. Fingers crossed it’s not too bad.”
Wakefield also lost prop Anthony England with a shoulder injury while St Helens winger Adam Swift was taken off with a head knock.