WOLVES boss Tony Smith says he saw plenty of reasons for optimism despite their 27-26 defeat to Wigan in the Challenge Cup quarter finals.

The Wire were looking to reach the last four of the competition for the sixth year in a row, but came up just short in a breathless encounter at The Halliwell Jones Stadium.

This was Wolves’ fifth defeat in a row in all competitions, but Smith says he could not fault the effort his players put into the game.

“I'm sure it was a fantastic match for the neutral, there wasn't much between us,” he said.

“In terms of effort, character, fight and spirit, there was plenty of it from my boys.

“I saw plenty of reasons for hope. There was a lot of fight from our boys and they went down swinging.

“Some things didn't go our way. In terms of effort, there was no problem.”

Dec Patton had the chance to take the game to extra time with the last kick of the game, but his drop-goal attempt sailed just wide.

Before that, Stefan Ratchford saw his penalty attempt from the half way line miss the target in a frenetic end to the game.

Smith defended the decision to allow Ratchford to take the shot at goal, despite Patton converting all four of his attempts during the game.

The Wire boss also hinted the Wigan defence may have been offside as they attempted to disrupt Patton’s attempt at a one-pointer.

“Sometimes you see those drop goals squeeze in. All I'll say is I hope all those Wigan players are onside,” he said.

“The day has to come where, if they're offside, it's a penalty. They were very fast, put it that way.

“If they're not onside, you penalise them. That's it.

“Stefan has a bigger kick, he's the one that practices from there.

“I'm not going to put it on Stef, there was opportunities throughout that game that we didn't take.”