Chris Chester praises Kieran Dixon for recovering from his Wembley nightmare
Kieran Dixon justified the faith of his coach as Hull KR bounced back from their Challenge Cup final mauling with a precious 20-18 win over Wakefield that virtually guarantees their Super League survival.
Dixon was in tears after an error-strewn display in Rovers' record 50-0 defeat by Leeds at Wembley but Chris Chester kept him in the team and he responded with a man-of-the-match performance, highlighted by two tries, to help his side maintain their 100 per cent record in the Super 8s Qualifiers.
"Young Kieran probably copped a little bit of stick from people outside the dressing room but we know what a special talent he is," Chester said. "He played very well today and scored a couple of tries.
"He's a confidence kid and I thought it was important we got him back out on the field as soon as possible and he did himself proud today."
Rovers looked to be experiencing a Wembley hangover when they conceded three tries in the first 21 minutes to their lively opponents but Lee Smith and Jordan Tansey failed to land a conversion between them and that kept the home side in contention.
Josh Mantellato and Dixon pulled back tries before half-time and Dixon's second on 65 minutes put Rovers in front for the first time.
"It's never easy backing up after last week," Chester said. "The boys were really drained out there and they're drained in the dressing room.
"We made hard work of it, coming up with silly errors. If they had kicked their goals, who knows what would have happened?
"But credit to my boys, there is a lot of spirit in this group and it showed out there today."
The outcome was tough on the Wildcats and leaves them still with work to do to ensure their survival in Super League, starting with the visit of Halifax next Saturday.
"Next week will be an absolutely vital game for us," said Wakefield coach Brian Smith. "We had a great opportunity today. If we had performed at the level we're capable of, we could be sitting in a completely different position to the one we're in right now.
"We brought about our own demise. We just fumbled our way in the second half - we lost our shape and our impetus and we allowed Rovers to hang into the game long enough for someone to come up with something.
"Goalkicking as well was a vital factor. We think we've got two or three of the best goalkickers around but two of them had an off day today."
The big plus for Wakefield was the comeback of New Zealand international K evin Locke, who scored two first-half tries on his return from a seven-week injury lay-off, while the man he replaced at full-back, Lee Smith, also scored a brace of tries.
"Kevin was great to start with but he very quickly ran out of puff," Smith said. "He got a few solid hits on him. I'll be looking for the same sort of thing from him next week but more of it."
Meanwhile, Chester confirmed that Australian scrum-half Albert Kelly, who shook off a knee injury to play at Wembley, is likely to be ruled out until next season and he is set to stick with Dane Chisholm and Matty Marsh as his half-backs for rest of this year.