THERE were no nerves for Wolves boss Tony Smith as his side held out a rampaging Hull FC to earn their first win of the year.
Hull’s late try through Fetuli Talanoa had reduced the hosts’ lead to just two points with minutes remaining, but even though the entirety of the 10,000-strong crowd endured a tense finale, Smith was the picture of calm.
“I was quite relaxed,” he said.
“It was a tough old game played in tough conditions and we had to stick with it.
“I thought we controlled it pretty well for much of the game.
“We had a few moments, a few slip-ups here and there but it was a big improvement again.
“The two teams threw a lot at each other and it took a lot of resilience on your own goal line from time to time and we showed that.
“But was I nervous? Not really.”
Wolves had opened an 18-6 half time lead thanks to tries from Stefan Ratchford, Trent Waterhouse and Ben Evans, but Danny Houghton’s try had given a much-improved Hull a chance heading into the second half.
Tom Lineham and Talanoa’s efforts were the only breaches of two excellent try-line defences during a scrappy and penalty-strewn second half, but Wolves had done enough to pick up their first two-point haul of 2014.
As calm as he was about the result, Smith was frustrated by the way the game was officiated.
“It was always going to be a scrappy game, one in the conditions and two when James controls games,” said Smith about referee James Childs.
“The ruck area is always going to get scrappy and slow and you just get confused.
“The players get confused and that is just the reality.
“Everyone knows it and that is an area we need to work on to understand that better for when we have him in control of our games.
“That is our issue, not his.”
Most importantly for Smith, even more so than the result, was another improved performance from his side.
“I got the improvement we were looking for,” he said.
“I thought our kicking game was terrific in that first half.
“That part of our game in those conditions was so crucial.
“Gaz did 90% of the kicks today and 80% of his 90% were very good, if you can work that out.
“I thought he kicked pretty solidly there today and that made a big difference to us.
“Some of the boys who were well off their best last week had good, solid games today and that makes a big difference.”
Wolves now look forward to backing up their first win with a trip to struggling London Broncos next week, where Smith is expecting to welcome back two players from injury to compensate for the delayed return of forward Ben Harrison.
“Matty Russell got the green light on Friday and ripped it up in training yesterday and today” said Smith.
“So fingers crossed, as long as there are no training accidents as we had with Ben Harrison, who pulled his hamstring two days ago, he’ll be back and so will Glenn Riley.
“Ben was due to play until that and is now likely to be four or five weeks away, it was quite a tear.”