Hull Kingston Rovers 32 Wakefield Trinity 10: Tony Smith sure his decision to leave club won’t overshadow Robins’ season

THERE is still a lot of rugby to be played this year, but coach Tony Smith is confident he will leave Hull KR in good shape at the end of his four seasons in charge.

Double: Hull KR’s Ethan Ryan scores his second try in the convincing 32-10 win against Wakefield Trinity. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com
Double: Hull KR’s Ethan Ryan scores his second try in the convincing 32-10 win against Wakefield Trinity. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

The Challenge Cup semi-finalists extended their winning run to six matches with a 32-10 defeat of Wakefield Trinity in their first game since Smith announced he will move on when his contract expires this autumn.

It is Hull KR’s best sequence of results since 2009 and three of those victories came in the space of nine days over the notoriously testing Easter period.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Smith hailed that as “a great accomplishment by the boys” and said: “They dug deep to do it, it wasn’t easy by any means, particularly the Toulouse game over there.

Highs and lows: Hull KR's Lachlan Coote celebrates scoring a try against a dejected Wakefield defence. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

“That was tough, we didn’t play well and had to fight back, then we came out [against Wakefield] and played pretty fresh for big pieces of it.

“We defended really well, I thought, on our own line.

“There was some great attack and we scored a few lovely tries, but it was the determination in defence that really stuck out for me.”

Smith added: “This team has been guilty in the past of caving in early, but we have progressed.

No drama: Hull KR coach Tony Smith. Picture by Manuel Blondeau/SWpix.com

“We are still progressing, we will have odd days when it’s not so good, but I can feel a bit more determination about them and a bit more understanding and a bit of maturity.

“We are not there yet, by a long shot, but it does feel like we are getting better.”

Such remarks, perhaps, make Smith’s announcement, three days before Saturday’s game, even more surprising.

The players’ response was a positive one, as evidenced by a seven try win which would have been much more convincing but for an off day with the boot by Lachlan Coote, who missed with five conversion attempts.

Smith, however, insisted he expected nothing else.

“It has been good,” he said of the reaction to his decision.

“People are respectful, the ones I have spoken to and so are my players.

“I have hardly had anything negative and I am not sure why there should be anyway.

“I haven’t said I am quitting or anything like that, just that I will finish my contract. Otherwise, how do we finish as coaches, do we only get sacked?

“I was asked nearly a month ago [when Leeds coach Richard Agar resigned] what my future was as head coach and that’s when it all started.

“I said ‘I don’t know’, so I spent some time and had some talks with various people in my life and gave an answer.

“I am not sure why there’s so much fuss.”

Kane Linnett, Coote and Shaun Kenny-Dowall scored tries for Rovers as they opened a 16-0 half-time lead and Ethan Ryan went over twice in quick succession soon after the break.

Jacob Miller and Lewis Murphy pulled tries back, the first being converted by Mason Lino, but a forward pass in the next set - one of several by Trinity at crucial times - took the pressure off and Ryan Hall crossed to end the fightback, before Linnett’s second try completed the scoring.

Trinity are now on a four-game losing run for the second time this season, those sequences being separated by a quartet of victories.

“I am hurting,” said coach Willie Poching after the latest defeat.

“Just like the players are, I was disappointed with the performance.

“We missed some opportunities and we just weren’t quite hitting the mark in good ball.

“We need to get to the bottom of why that wasn’t working and we lacked some composure offensively and defensively.

“They got on a roll a couple of times and scored some tries in areas we need to look at.

“There are plenty of things for us to fix up.

“We are in a bit of a rut at the moment and it is quite obvious we have got to get out of this,” Poching admitted.

Hull KR: Coote, Ryan, Crooks, Kenny-Dowall, R Hall, Milnes, Abdull, Storton, Litten, King, Hadley, Linnett, Minchella. Substitutes: Vete, Sims, Keinhorst, Richards.

Wakefield Trinity: Jowitt, Murphy, Lyne, C Hall, Johnstone, Miller, Lino, Tanginoa, Walker, Arona, Ashurst, Pitts, Batchelor. Substitutes: Kay, Aydin, Battye, Crowther.

Referee: Aaron Moore (Wigan).