“And a special thanks to the players of Warrington Wolves for travelling 115 miles to roll over and gift us the two points.”
When we played Hull KR at home earlier in the season, we noted that it was Tony Smith’s sixth anniversary in charge of the club and mentioned how highly unlikely it would be for his position to be under any serious pressure.
Well, it’s amazing the difference just a few months can make, isn’t it?
As ever with Warrington, there is a small but vocal section of the support that are questioning whether Smith has taken the club as far as he can. For the most part, it’s the usual suspects; the type of folk who seem happier to see us lose on nights like this just so they have something to moan about on the internet, the social media bandwagon jumpers and the otherwise generally ill-informed.
But at 10 o’clock on Friday night with a miserable two hour drive home looming, having paid 25 sheets to watch an average Hull KR team, missing their star half back, dry bum your beloved Wire, even the most rational supporter can let their frustrations get the better of them.
The result leaves us in seventh place after the full round of fixtures, just two points above both Hull clubs, who both have a game in hand over us. We are, of course, only four points off the top four ourselves, but we have lost a lot of ground on the likes of Cas and Huddersfield with the last two results.
In Campese’s absence, Albert Kelly combined with Maurice Blair to rip us apart all evening, while our half back combination of Patton and Bridge offered precious little creativity or control of the game.
Kelly was at the heart of everything positive about Rovers’ play; his kicking game in particular causing havoc. He had a hand – or a boot – in most of their tries.
After Chris Hill’s try – on the back of a charge down of all things! – gave Wire an early lead, we were defending for most of the first half before two quick Rovers tries before half-time sent them into the changing sheds in the lead.
Kelly’s cut out pass found Liam Salter who released Ken Sio on the wing and the former Parramatta man raced away and showed neat footwork to beat Stefan Ratchford and score in the corner.
Right before the break, Kelly’s towering bomb gave Kris Welham enough time to line up Joel Monaghan with a thunderous tackle just as the skipper caught the ball. The impact left both blokes in a heap on the floor and forced the ball loose, allowing Josh Montellato an easy try under the sticks.
It was all one way traffic after the restart, with Kieron Dixon getting the scoreboard ticking over again with a solo effort before Liam Salter extended the scoring after another Kelly kick to the corner was patted back to him by Sio.
The 80 or so that had bothered to trek to East Hull were teased with a brief glimmer of hope when a rare backline spread saw the pivots combine to provide Ormsby with the space to finish in the corner.
Former wire man Tyke McCarthy effectively killed off the game, however, when he pounced on Kelly’s pinpoint grubber kick to score.
An easy try for Kris Welham was sandwiched by two Montellato penalty goals to rub further salt into the gaping wound that is Wire’s confidence.
As the clock ticked down, our figurative lack of punch became literal, when Ashton Sims, our pack’s 6’5, 17 stone enforcer couldn’t even give a Hull KR player a slap when things got a bit heated in a tackle. Yet Roy Asotasi is the one vilified as stealing a living!
Weak in defence and all but clueless in attack, it was Wire at our absolutely worst that has sadly been seen too much this season. The voices of discontent continue to grow with each defeat and the ‘it’s a results business’ argument always crops up.
Tony Smith has done a good enough job at the club over the last six years to deserve enough time to see through the transitional period having seen a number of his top performers retire at around the same time and a number of academy products step up to the first team. Trophies aren’t handed out in June, so it is the results in October that any coach should be judged on.
That said, with the form we’re in at the moment and the form that Leigh are currently in, Saturday’s game could be season defining, if not career defining, for him.
In 2006, we travelled to Craven Park in the quarter finals of the cup and were royally turned over by a Hull KR side that were building momentum ahead of their eventual promotion into Super League. The parallels between that Rovers side and the Leigh side we’ll be facing on Saturday are uncanny indeed. Worryingly, so are the parallels between that inconsistent Wire side and this one.