TONY Smith hailed “a gutsy effort under pressure” as Wolves made it three games without defeat at Widnes Vikings last night.

After conceding an early try to Stefan Marsh and losing Matty Russell to a head injury, converted scores from Tom Lineham, Jack Hughes and Joe Philbin plus a Dec Patton drop goal handed Wolves a 17-4 half-time lead that proved to be enough.

Although Wolves, without seven regulars, then lost Ryan Atkins to another head injury and Widnes dominated for much of the second half the Wolves defence remained strong and restricted the hosts to just one more try by Charly Runciman from a Chris Bridge kick.

“Tactically we didn’t play a lot of footy but I thought we played gutsy for one another under pressure,” said Wolves’ head of coaching and rugby.

“We had to graft it out. It wasn’t easy as Widnes got a bit of momentum in the second half and we conceded some errors and penalties.

"We were tenacious defensively, I like to see that sort of determination.

"They were digging in for each other, the spirit was there.

“I don't think that stuff is ugly, it's beautiful - I love watching them defend their goal line with real determination, cover for each other and not cave in just because they've gone back-to-back sets. I love watching that. That shows the spirit of a team.

“We might not have had all the big names out there but they got down and got dirty for each other, put their bodies on the line for one another.

“It might not always be the prettiest game, but you’re going to have a chance of winning games if you make it hard for your opponents to go over and score tries.”

Wolves did make it hard for themselves at times though.

"I think there were six times that we turned the ball over on first or second tackle. That's too much, you can't do that and it takes us back to inflicting hurt on ourselves.

"To counter that, the team's determination in goal-line defence was terrific."

Wolves went into the game without Daryl Clark, Joe Westerman, Ben Westwood, Mike Cooper, Dom Crosby, Kevin Brown and two yet to appear this year - Ben Currie and Kevin Penny.

"Not only were we missing a few, we lost a couple on the field - Matty Russell early on and then Ryan Atkins,” said Smith.

"We're down on troops but the good news story was some of the young blokes who came in for them did a great job.

"I thought our bench showed an impact. I thought Joe Philbin was terrific off the bench and some of our other young forwards.

"George King is playing some really good footy, over the past few weeks.

"And I have to mention Benjamin Jullien, who was plucked out of nowhere.

“He's not played much footy, he's had some injuries. He's played one of two games for Rochdale (on dual registration, partner club) but he came out and played 80 minutes of Super League and played well.

"Andre Savelio did a good job off the bench. They all played their roles and did what they had to do."