Tony Smith has paid testament to his side’s outstanding defensive display in their 12-10 victory over Leeds Rhinos.
Despite spending large chunks of the game camped on their own line, a display backed with desire and determination meant the Wolves restricted the reigning Super League champions to just two tries while converted scores from Chris Sandow and Kevin Penny secured an opening round victory for Warrington.
Although Smith did raise concerns regarding his side’s lack of punctuality with the ball, he was thrilled with their defensive showing.
“Our defence was outstanding – and it needed to be,” he said.
“It got tested; they threw some stuff at us and really threw some ball at us, and they had dominated us in terms of territory and field position, and with the ball. They ended up with around 60 plays more than us throughout the game – they had 40 in the first half alone, that’s ten extra sets that we had to defend – and wow, did we defend.
“We’ve got to do things a little bit better than that in the future in terms of conceding penalties and handling the ball better, but there were a few we couldn’t help. I got worried when they could have drawn that game on what I thought was a fairly soft penalty; I would have hated to have lost a point on that last penalty. Fortunately, it worked out for us.
“I thought the centres were outstanding. Rhys in the first half saved our bacon, he knows when to make big tackles and he’s so strong. Ben Currie came up with two or three huge plays; not many people will run down Rob Burrow and round him up with that sort of space he’s had. That was a big play and it was a game-saving play for us.”
Smith saved special praise for halfback Chris Sandow, who scored the opening try of the game before setting up the decisive try with a pin-point crossfield kick.
“There were some fantastic aspects of our play and most of those were defensive, but we came up with some good stuck with the ball too, particularly from our little half-back. I thought he was absolutely brilliant when he had a bit of ball.
“I mentioned last year it wasn’t fair to judge him on last year; he was a shell of a bloke and he’d been really dragged through it in Australia and he came to us shattered. He did really well last year in the circumstances and now he’s fitter, faster and stronger – and most of all, he’s happy. That comes out in the way he plays; he did well tonight but he’s got a bit more to show yet.”