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Warrington Wolves boss is happy with what his side have achieved in 2012
WARRINGTON Wolves boss Tony Smith believes there are still plenty of reasons for his side to be proud of what they have achieved in 2012.
The devastation of falling at the final hurdle after a thrilling battle with Grand Final specialists Leeds will surely linger in the minds of both players and fans for months to come, but that does not detract from the fact that this was still Wolves’ most successful campaign in the Super League era.
“We can handle defeat, and with dignity, so long as we feel we are progressing,” said Smith.
“We are doing that as a club, we are now competing at the sharp end of the season and we haven’t done that before in Super League.
“We were one point off the league leaders and we gave up a point in our first game, six days after a 24 hour flight from Australia.
“We won the Challenge Cup and competed in a very tough and competitive Grand Final, so I am pretty happy with our season and I am very proud of the efforts of our players.”
The pain of suffering a 26-18 defeat having held a four-point lead after 50 minutes will only intensify Wolves disappointment.
But credit must go to a Leeds side that never looked flustered under pressure, and who knew how to turn the screw with the score poised at 20-18 and only 10 minutes remaining.
Wolves, too, had the chance to lay a hand on the trophy in those crucial moments, but were unable to come up with the big play when they needed it most.
Some might argue that Leeds’ experience came through to help them in the end, that Wolves froze in the headlights and were unable to produce the moment of magic they needed to tip the game in their favour.
Smith disagrees, instead pointing to the moments when Wolves were throwing everything they had into defence to prevent Leeds from capitalising on back-to-back penalties earlier in the second half.
“I don’t think we panicked,” he said.
“The pressure we were under and the efforts in defence, that dulls your skills and you are not as sharp as a result.
“We defended too much and that is very draining.
“It is more attrition at that stage rather than panic.”