SMITH DELIGHTED HIS TEAM PRODUCE THE GOODS
Tony Smith hailed his players for their effort, both mentally and physically, after continuing their unbeaten start to the season at the end of a run of 4 games in 13 days
Tony Smith hailed his players for their effort, both mentally and physically, after continuing their unbeaten start to the season over his former club at the end of a run of 4 games in 13 days. The Rhinos have taken maximum points from games against Widnes, Bradford, Salford and Giants in less than a fortnight and Smith was pleased with how his players kept their nerve against an unknown quantity in a much changed Huddersfield team. "I’m very satisfied," he said. "We’ve played four games in 13 days which is a great effort, keeping them scoreless would have been great but to restrict them to one try was fantastic. "It was a tough game to prepare for, for all sorts of reasons. Mentally it has been a tough period, draining for the players as well as physically and to concentrate all the way through from when we started this four game run was difficult to do. A lot of changes to the opposition made it difficult, we had prepared in a certain way but there was a lot of new faces out there which was a bit disruptive and the weather didn’t help as well. Huddersfield had their usual fighting spirit and all credit to them, they always turn up to play everytime they take the field. England internationally Chev Walker scored the fifty try of his career amongst the third hat trick of his Rhinos career and Smith was pleased with his ability to find the whitewash as well singling out the efforts of two-try scorer Dave Furner and Kevin Sinfield and Rob Burrow. "Chev’s having a good season, although I didn’t feel he was at his best tonight, having said that he scored three tries so maybe I am a hard marker. I thought we were all a little flat. Dave Furner worked hard throughout and I thought Kevin Sinfield did a lot of work early on, they asked a lot of questions of him defensively in the first half but he handled it well," he said. For the second game running, Smith used the interchange to take captain Sinfield off in the first half but he revealed in the post match press conference that this was always part of the plan, "I have tried to rotate them a little bit to help try and freshen the players up with four games in less than a fortnight. It’s draining to concentrate during that period let along tackle, pass, make good decisions and know where to kick it so I am delighted with the way that the players handled it, to get all the points available to us in those games is great." Smith spent two and half seasons at the McAlpine helping the Giants to their highest league finish in over a quarter of a century but he said the win had no more significance for him than any other, "I’m passed that now, we played them in a friendly and there were some nerves before that one but now I’m a Rhino and I’m happy to be here. Jon’s the coach of Huddersfield now, I am proud of the work that I did there for the few years that I was there but I’m happy were I am now." Giants coach Jon Sharp had rested six players ahead of the Powergen Challenge Cup semi final next week against St Helens however the game was a tight affair due in part to heavy rain throughout and it was 14-6 going into half time when Rob Burrow tackled former Rhino Marcus St Hilaire into touch with a tackle described by Smith as "sensational". He added, "Rob added a spark to us, we needed a spark tonight, we were a bit out on our feet and Rob provided that spark, you expect that from him, he could give you a spark even when you are running hot. The boys would have been disappointed if we had let in another one and that was a great try saver."