TONY Smith was delighted with the commitment shown by his men in the success against Leeds Rhinos on Friday night.
Wolves became only the third team this season to defeat the Yorkshiremen, inflicting upon the competition’s best defensive team their highest defeat of the season so far.
The four tries from Chris Bridge (two), Chris Hill and Joel Monaghan was one better than St Helens and Wigan Warriors had managed in their victories over Brian McDermott’s side.
Smith said: “It was a really good effort.
“We’ve defended with less missed tackles before. We’ve executed and scored bigger points than that before. But in terms of effort and commitment to one another and commitment to their cause, that was our best display.
“We knew we were up against a team that is fantastic at preventing tries being scored.
“Their full back Zak Hardaker is the best in the competition at preventing tries, never giving in a last-ditch effort and he pulled off one of those on Rhys Evans’ length-of-the-field effort to prevent a try. And Carl Ablett pulled one off in the first half as well.
“They’re very good at that so we knew that we’d have to be equally as committed and I thought we were outstanding at it ourselves in terms of covering up for each other and making sure they didn’t get maximum points on us too often.”
He admitted that running the bigger Leeds side off their feet had been a part of the game plan, with injuries to back rowers James Laithwaite and Ben Currie also reducing Wolves’ overall presence of size during the 80 minutes.
“We had a lot of littler men on the field and it suited us in some respects to move the ball around,” said Smith.
“It was a bit more like what we’d like to play like anyway but it suited the personnel that we had.
“We were down to one sub by the end so it really was a case of attrition in the second half and we had some people who put in big game time and big efforts.
“Chris Hill didn’t come off until 61 minutes. There’s only one other prop in the competition that puts in those kind of shifts and that’s Jamie Peacock (Leeds). And JP’s given some leniency in what he does and doesn’t do.
“But Hilly’s was 61 minutes of full-on high performance commitment and effort. It was a big effort from a young man like him.”
He gave a nod to some other individuals too.
“Michael Monaghan’s playing some of his better rugby league at the moment,back up to some of his best,” said Smith.
“He put in an 80-minute effort and in terms of effort, it was his best. I’ve seen him silkier and seen him miss less tackles this year, but in terms of digging in and getting the team around the field he did really well.
“Chris Bridge is on fire at the moment and showing a new lease of life.
“He loves the half-back position and is doing really well there.
“And I’ve got to mention Stefan Ratchford. He played half back, loose forward, left second row and right second row at times. If I asked him to play front row he’s do that too, I’m sure of it.
“The ability to slot around in different positions and play it well is enormous for us. I mentioned it last week about Ben Currie, while this week it was Stef. We have to have some utility, people who are capable of playing other positions.”
Wolves are now enjoying their best run of the season, this making it four Super League wins on the bounce.
Smith said: “I was asked about our start to the season by someone a few minutes ago, but last time we played Leeds in round two there wasn’t much between us.
“Leeds deserved to win that night certainly, but it’s a fine line between victory and defeat and I’ve said it before.
“It doesn’t mean one team’s hopeless and the other fantastic.
“They’re two good rugby league teams who will have their way on different nights that they play each other.
“On another day, Leeds will have a similar scoreline to that against us. That’s the nature of our sport and this was our night.”