TONY Smith was pretty pleased with Warrington Wolves’ 14-8 victory over The Salford Red Devils at The Halliwell Jones Stadium.
In Wolves’ final pre-season friendly before their Super League opener against St Helens a week tomorrow, Thursday, the hosts breezed to a 14-0 lead thanks to tries from Joel Monaghan, Ben Westwood and Chris Riley before being pegged back by a spirited Salford comeback.
The match, played in atrocious conditions, was a mixed bag for both sides, but there were plenty of positives for Smith to take from the hit-out.
“It was a good exercise for us,” he said.
“I thought we were terrific that first half, really good.
“We had great control and played a pretty sensible first 40 minutes.
“The second half was a bit of a contrast, we lacked a bit of control and we weren’t quite as disciplined.
“So it was a good exercise for us and we will be able to compare the two halves and look at which way we would prefer to play.
“But the conditions were tough out there and it got worse as the night went on, so you can understand it being a difficult match for us to control the whole way through.”
Salford barely breached Wolves’ 20-metre line in a dominant opening stanza from the hosts, though Wolves started to unravel slightly when Rangi Chase scooped up a loose ball and produced an excellent set-up for Francis Meli to cut Wolves’ lead before the break.
A fine kick from Tim Smith then sent Greg Johnson over for the second half’s only try, but despite conceding twice Smith was overall extremely pleased with his side’s work at the back.
“I was happy with our defence, though there were a couple of lapses that we weren’t quite in control of,” he said.
“We conceded a zero tackle try, one of those when everyone stops and someone keeps moving with it and a second from a very nice kick for the winger.
“So in terms of breaking us down and going through us I was fairly pleased that we didn’t have too much of that.
“We were pretty solid, so that was a good sign.”
Stefan Ratchford was the game’s only casualty after coming off in the first half, but Smith expects only Matty Russell, Paul Wood and Ben Harrison to be unavailable for the visit of Saints in round one.
“Stefan had a tweak on his ankle, but he’ll be fine for next week,” he said.
“It just wasn’t worth the risk of putting back out there when he had tweaked it.
“But other than that, no we’re pretty good.
“I’ll tell you now, that unless I’m desperate and I am not that at all, Matty Russell won’t be playing without having a run-out somewhere first.
“He won’t be coming into the team to play the first round of the competition.”
Home debutants Roy Asotasi and Anthony England were both fairly quiet in their first showing at The Halliwell Jones Stadium, though this was not a night for inspiring performances from either side.
Ben Westwood was handed man of the match by the game’s sponsors, a choice that Smith found difficult to argue with.
“I thought Ben Currie got through a lot of work, his defence was a big improvement, but it is hard to look past Super Bennie, he was pretty good as well,” he added.