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Warrington Wolves boss asks for improvement after 37-18 defeat of Leeds Rhinos
WARRINGTON Wolves' 37-18 defeat of Super League champions Leeds Rhinos may have gone some way towards exorcising the demons of last week's painful loss to Hull KR, but for head of coaching and rugby Tony Smith there is still work to be done.
Smith's side blitzed the visitors with a superb opening spell of 30 minutes, crafting a 30-0 lead thanks largely to the lethal combination of Lee Briers and Gareth O'Brien, who latched onto two of his teammate's kicks to score an impressive brace in the space of 10 first half minutes.
But despite putting the World Club champions to the sword in the opening half, Smith believes his side let that standard slip after the break, resulting in a dent in confidence that was typified by Briers' drop goal on 66 minutes.
"We didn't manage the game very well the previous week, so I think there was a few skeletons there that we were trying to get rid of," he said.
"We were probably a bit too anxious about not getting run down rather than being positive and I didn't think we carried on as well as we needed to in the second half.
"They were trying to secure the game, but I think there was a little bit of anxiety and a little bit of trying too hard in some areas.
"But that is fine, it is all about learning and getting better and there is stuff we can improve on for our next game."
Regardless, there will be plenty of Wolves fans who will be delighted at the ease with which their side tore apart a Leeds team lacking in confidence after a mauling at the hands of league leaders Wigan last week.
Braces for both O'Brien and Chris Riley were added to Trent Waterhouse's opener to seal the purple patch in the first half, and while Kevin Sinfield continued his prolific scoring run against Wolves -the Leeds legend has now scored in 16 consecutive games against Warrington stretching back to 2006- there was little chance Leeds would prevent Wolves picking up another two points in their defence of the League Leaders Shield.
Even Rob Burrow's two tries could do little to stop Wolves storming to victory, with Ryan Atkins adding his almost customary try with less than 10 minutes on the clock.
Smith was impressed with the consistency O'Brien is offering alongside Briers in the halves, despite only being 20 years old.
"He was good," said Smith.
"Gareth has been playing pretty consistently for us for a number of weeks now and I thought he played well and supported the team well.
"He caught the eye in some big plays and that is good for a young man at that stage in his development.
"Hopefully he will continue to catch the eye in the future."
There was a moment of worry when Brett Hodgson was removed from play with an injury at the end of the first half, but Smith is confident the Aussie full back will be fit to captain the Exiles against England at Langtree Park next week.
"He feels quite confident he is going to be alright," he said.
"We are hoping so, we took a precaution after he tightened up in his hamstring.
"We're glad of the week off, but I will just be grateful if they all come back fit and healthy."