TONY Smith was pleased Warrington Wolves got the upper hand on Hull KR and progressed to the fifth round of the Challenge Cup with victory in the first of the sides’ two meetings this week.
Wolves were 28-24 victors in a hard-fought clash at the KC Lightstream Stadium, but welcome the Robins to The Halliwell Jones Stadium in the Super League in five days time.
And Smith, looking for his fourth Challenge Cup success with Warrington, admitted the importance of getting the first victory.
“We’re pleased we got this one,” he said. “I’d hate to do it the other way around and not quite get this one done and then head into Friday trying to chase the points. There’s no doubt the Challenge Cup has got some finality about it.
“We’ve got to do it again on Friday, which isn’t much of a turnaround, but it should be another good scrap and we’ll both know a whole lot more about each other than what we did leading into that game today.
“The result is all back into the lap of the Gods for Friday, but we know where we are for the Challenge Cup.”
Wolves, who were drawn a home tie against Doncaster in the fifth round, had to come from 14-10 down at the break and Smith was disappointed with some of their plays in the first half.
“We did some good things, but I also thought some of our last plays weren’t good enough,” he added. “Some of our finishing plays in the first half put pressure on ourselves.
“At the back end of the first half we were a whole lot better and came up with some better plays. We were still behind on the board, but that last 10 minutes of the first half we carried on and started positively in the second half.
“We made hard work of it at times with some of the ways we changed the ball over, but having said that Hull KR were fighting really hard and putting pressure on where they could.
“Fortunately we were able to stay ahead for most of it. We fought our way back pretty hard in the last 10 minutes of the first half and we could have easily gone in ahead.”
Smith also praised Wolves’ perseverance following a second successive comeback, the first at Huddersfield Giants last Sunday.
“We’re grafting away at the moment and doing it a little bit the hard way,” he said. “But that’s where we’re at; showing that determination and fight to get ourselves ahead even when we’ve been behind for a while.
“We can add to our kicking game as well, I’d like to get a bit smoother with some aspects of our performance but they were in for a scrap and put a good show of it.
“I thought their determination was clear that first half, you saw their fight and spirit at the back end of the game.
“We’d love to go and dominate every game we play, that’s what we try to do, but there are two teams. It was a good, hard game of rugby league between two very determined teams.”
Smith found it difficult to pick out a key player in Wolves’ win, but was pleased with the returning Paul Wood, making his first appearance of the season.
“Ben Westwood and Trent Waterhouse again put in a big effort and Michael Monaghan gave us a spark, when he came on he lifted us for a while and is important for us,” he said.
“I didn’t think anybody from our team really shone out there like a few have been in recent times, Matty Russell at the back brought the ball forward pretty well but it was more the pressure we put on our kick pressures.
“We made their kicking game not as good as it can be, because they’ve got two very good half backs who can kick the ball very well and they were under pressure all day.
“Woody gave a good contribution there except for his offload into the in-goal area, but that’s Woody and his positives outshone even that pass.”