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Warrington Wolves coach believes his side will learn from defeat to return stronger next year
TONY Smith has promised that Warrington Wolves will come back stronger after losing their first Grand Final to ‘deserving’ winners Leeds Rhinos at Old Trafford.
Wolves agonisingly fell at the final hurdle in their bid to end a 57-year wait for a league title, wilting under pressure from Brian McDermott’s Grand Final experts to finish 26-18 down despite tries from Richie Myler, Joel Monaghan and Ryan Atkins.
Smith, familiar the unique disappointment of losing a Grand Final after losing out with Leeds in 2005, admitted that though defeat was painful, Wolves will come back stronger for the experience.
“Leeds deserved it,” he said.
“We didn’t want to go along with the old adage that you have to lose one to win one, because that is not true.
“But the thing about my players is that they are smart and quick learners.
“They will learn a lot from tonight and we will be keen to get back next year.
“We are hurting in that dressing room, because you want to come away winners, but we can handle that.
“We can handle defeat and with dignity, so long as we feel we are progressing.”
Wolves never really looked comfortable, despite twice taking the lead through Myler and Atkins’ efforts early in both halves.
Leeds looked sharper in attack and as a result pushed Warrington back towards their own line, leading to long spells of defence that Smith believes robbed his side of their chance to take the game by the scruff of the neck.
“It was a tough hard game that got away from us,” he said.
“I am pleased with the efforts of our players, they put in big shifts, but the game ebbed and flowed.
“The game, even after half time, was there for somebody to take hold of it and I thought someone needed to up the ante to get it.
“I thought we upped the ante in the second half but some of the discipline on our try line hurt us.
“We conceded penalty after penalty there and after some great effort to stop them from scoring from those field positions it takes a lot out of you and you don’t throw back as much as you need to.
“We needed to be more disciplined there else they would take the opportunity and unfortunately they did that.
“The other part we needed to improve on was our kicking game.
“I didn’t think we were tactically great and we didn’t try to pressure the opposition enough.
“It looked like we were trying not to lose rather than win and it was waiting for someone to take it by the throat, which Leeds did.”